Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oh, sweet mystery of life

It's the most mysterious time of year. For me, it's a time of waiting, wondering, questioning. In addition to all the holiday frenzy--the planning, the cleaning, the cooking, the buying--the weeks just prior to Christmas and New Year's Eve always trigger a desire to thoroughly analyze my belief system.
As a youngster, I followed my parents' directions and was a good little Catholic girl. Looking back, I can say I found comfort in the rituals, the certainty that things were always going to be the same each year. In (Catholic) high school, though I was instructed by nuns, they belonged to a rather free-thinking (at the time) order, and I was encouraged to explore other belief systems. That's one of the most valuable gifts my private-school education gave me. I went to a religious, but not Catholic, college, and became an "official" Lutheran. It felt freer, yet still familiar and comforting.
During my senior year, I met my first real non-Christian friends, and my eyes were opened to the world outside my little bubble. Wow. It was literally life-changing.
Since then, I've made a conscious effort to read, read, read as many perspectives on beliefs as I can. Prior to the birth of my children, I visited most of the various places of worship that the Madison area offers.
While I had the children baptized as Lutherans, I still question why I did it. If I had to label myself, I guess after all my reading, experiences, etc., I'm agnostic, with a lean toward Wicca. And yet, I'm glad I had the girls baptized. I still haul out the manger scenes. We still use Advent calendars. I still sing, " O Holy Night," and get chills.
And I feel okay about all of this.
Is it confusing? Yes. Is it hypocritical? Probably. But I'm really okay with that. Overall, I truly believe each human needs to believe whatever it is that gets him/her through the days and nights as the best person possible. Live and let live. Be kind. Keep questioning. Keep an open mind. It's all a big mystery. You can't flip to the end to see how it turns out. You can just live it.

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