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Monday, August 10, 2015

Totem for a Heathen

I'm spiritual but not religious, at least not in the conventional Western sense. My childhood was filled with religious-fueled manic highs and lows of my mother's mental illness. One week we were Pentecostal. The next, Seventh Day Adventists. Baptists for a short time. 

None of these sects filled up the holes inside my mother's precarious psyche, but it sure gives me loads of interesting stories. By age 8, I can mimic demonic exorcism (for smoking and drinking "demons") and speak in tongues (gibberish). My powers of imitation begin with making fun of the slew of pastors, preachers and other various church goers that I am forced to spend my weekends with. Religion is dark and God seems to be a bit of a bipolar asshole. My friends love my stories about my crazy mother. 

Nowadays, I have a healthy aversion to all things supernatural. Except for my own altar of faith. 

It's just a bookcase, blond colored Ikea style. It holds nothing expensive or rare, nothing of any real monetary value. Lots of books - old cookbooks, mixed volumes on eastern religion, a few quirky and unusual titles. My favorite wedding photo, where we are untouched by time. My grandmother's cheap metal Christ statue draped with her rosary beads. Her hand mirror and pin from Zayre's. Statues of elephants. Crystals, my father's coins, rocks from Maine. My dad's dog tags and key chain, his watch. Every single card sent to me during treatment. Marble eggs to symbolize growth, rebirth, change. The handwritten notes from my oncologist with the words, "curable" in her neat script. My final pathology report indicating my complete response to chemotherapy. 

I accept all prayers gratefully and sincerely. They come by accident, coincidence and with terrific purpose. Strangers hug me and hold my hands, and allow me to cry on their clothes, embracing me fully and without a hint of embarrassment.  And, well...all this seems to work. I've come to learn - what harm is a little faith in the dark?  

For now, the bookcase will stay, undisturbed except for a dusting to keep the energy clear. Everything about it makes me happy, grateful and amazed.