In the Spirit of Things

In the Spirit of Things

My dearest Pam,

I am writing back quickly so as to put your mind at ease, because I just know you will fret and worry about alienating me by sharing your faith. Because of course our re-connection is new, and so maybe a little less secure. But please be reassured, your spiritual life would never put distance between us.

You may think that because I am living in the Northeast among the Coastal Elites that we suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome, and are in favor of unisex bathrooms, against all religious expression (except Islamic, of course), and for socialized everything …. Ummm, No.  I would position myself in the center politically and culturally, but anymore my views seem to align with ‘conservative’ politics. I am always out-of-sorts with the goings on here in New Haven, what with all the crazy Yale students and progressive posturing – so much of it hypocritical. Here residents claim to value diversity, yet live in all-white, gentrified neighborhoods; they profess fealty to public education but send their children to private schools (or use status, wealth, and political connections to get their kids into New Haven’s one well-performing public school). There are a group of neighbors on an adjacent street who cloaked their NIMBY attitudes towards the homeless in environmental grassroots activism. Beyond these self-serving and face-saving shenanigans the virtue-signaling behavior most upsetting to me is the reflexive derision of the middle of the country, characterizing its inhabitants as ignorant, backwards, and yes, deplorable. Because I grew up there (and lived in Kentucky with Bruce for many years), I know the goodness and strength and humility of the people of the Midwest. I have written about this more than once, for MUSE. I am comfortable in the kind of community Midwesterners make – careful and kind and respectful – which is anchored and fostered, fundamentally, by faith.

Beyond that, we are closer than you might think spiritually. For one thing, I do believe Jesus Christ walked this Earth, and everything I know that he preached and said and believed about how to live, and especially How To Treat Others, resonates. Who could be at odds with his teachings? I just do not feel the personal connection you do, rather a philosophical (and spiritual) one. I am not a church-y kind of girl either … no doubt due to my Catholic experiences. Your St. Kiernan’s journey is exactly mine! My mother pulled me out of our second grade class, too, and sent me to Brookwood. Even so, I made my first communion and did the catechism for confirmation, and then that was it. I told my mother it just didn’t make any sense to me, and I wasn’t going to church anymore, and she said OK.

My spirit is most charged and alive and aware in nature. This is when I feel connected to the immense, infinitely bigger-than-me universe, it a part of me as I am a part of it. Bound to all living (and non-living!) things and to a Greater Force, with awe and love and gratitude, for life and the marvelous, wonderful, inexplicable world. I think many people have an experience like this among others, in community, which is to say, Church. You and I share this knowledge/understanding/awareness at the least, and differ only in our devotional expressions. For me, everything I make – art, essay, story, garden, party, friendship, neighborhood – is a prayer, an offering, an homage to the great Creative Power. The one true thing that stayed with me from the Catholic church: that life is a precious gift not to be wasted, but rather shared and expanded and reveled in.

So, just as you have room for Bob’s Catholic framework of these most important truths, I have room – acres! – for yours.



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