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  • As a child, I knew my name, I knew my address, I knew my age, I could spell "ice cream" and I knew that I was a Catholic. Catholics went to heaven. Non-Catholics did not. God loved Catholics. God wanted to love non-Catholics but he could only love them if they became Catholics. God had a son named Jesus. Jesus was an only child. Jesus always obeyed his father and he never did anything wrong. He was kind of human but he was perfect, something humans could never be. His father sent him to save humans because we were sinners and did a lot of very bad things. If Jesus didn't suffer and die, humans couldn't go to heaven. Occasionally I forgot my address, sometimes I even forgot how to spell my last name or how old I was. Two things I never forgot were how to spell "ice cream" and what it meant to be a Catholic.

    From the universal Catholic Church point of view ours was a messy family. My mother was a German Lutheran who didn't see the point to hopping on the heaven train if she had to leave her grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews behind. Her youngest brother's wife, my favorite aunt, was Jewish. We never even talked about that. My brother married his Protestant high school sweetheart. None of the Catholic part of the family attended because it would have been a sin to attend the marriage of a catholic to a non-catholic. Apparently turning your back on a family member wasn't considered one of the bad things that kept you out of heaven but it was one my earliest memories of being confused and frightened. 

    I'm not sure if where I've been is as important as where I am on a spiritual journey but I've never looked back without a chip on my shoulder. I say I'm past it. I nobly proclaim forgiveness and understanding yet I still struggle to let go. The older I get the less I know, the more I doubt and the more I feel it's ok to sense a presence greater than myself within me that I can't explain. I'm more interested in keeping the connection than I am in understanding it. Today God is the fresh air, institutionalized religion is the wall and people are the windows. For now that's enough.
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