To begin with, I am 63 years old and have lived all over the world. I began school in England, but I am an American. Back then, my life consisted of going to school, playing outside, reading books, and getting in trouble. I was trying to figure a lot of things in life out just like many people do when they are that small.
One of the things I was very confused about was church. My parents didn’t take me to church, and I didn’t go on a regular basis. I went a total of two times when I was in England, and it was such a big deal to me at the time, they are memories that really stick out in my mind. There were two churches on the street where we lived. At one end of the road, there was a Church of England, and on the other end of the road, there was a Catholic Church. My friends invited me both times I went.
When I went to the Catholic Church, I had no idea what was going on at all, but I remember the procession of people in fancy clothes going down the aisle between the pews, and afterward, the priest pulled me aside and talked to me one on one. No adult every did that before, and I was impressed and surprised that he was so interested in me.
When my friends took me to the Church of England, they had an organ at the front that played beautiful music. As I was sitting on the pew, the preacher made a comment that the church was built on many dead people, and my mind was thinking very concretely. After all, I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I was weirded out because I thought they actually put dead bodies in the foundation of the church building. When I went to the first Sunday school class I had ever attended there, the teacher just kept talking about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I couldn’t understand why she was so interested in this guy or who he was, so I asked her. She told me Jesus was a man who lived 2,000 years ago, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why they wanted to talk about a man who lived 2,000 years ago and why he had any relevance to us.
Besides visiting the church buildings, I also heard the Christmas carols. This is why when churches talk about the fact that Jesus was not actually born on Christmas, so we shouldn’t be celebrating it as his birthday, I disagree. I understand it is not Jesus’ actual birthday because a Roman emperor decreed that everyone in the Roman empire celebrate December 25th as the birth of Jesus because he was trying to replace a pagan holiday and make the Roman empire more Christian. However, the Christmas carols reached out to me and taught me as a little girl. I heard people singing “Away in a Manger.” It completely confused me. It made me listen hard to try to understand what they were talking about. What was a manger? Why didn’t he have a crib? Who was Jesus? Why was that baby so important? Why did it seem the whole world was singing about him? I had to answer those questions. Christianity is and was at the time a major philosophy in the world, and everyone should be able to answer those kinds of questions to understand the world better.
My misconceptions and ignorance about the world about me and Christianity were many. Every time I saw the clouds moving, I thought it was God’s moving day. When I heard thunder, I wondered if someone in Heaven was fighting.
There were so many mysteries in my world back then. Was there really a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Did fairies really live at the bottom of my garden? Who was Jesus? Why did they build the Church of England on dead people? Why was the priest so nice to me? What were they even saying at the Catholic church? Did the Easter Bunny really exist? Thankfully, as an adult, I have the answers I was looking for then. Some things I heard about weren’t real, but some are very real and needed to be sorted out.