Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s halfway through the week already, is it me or are the weeks passing by really quickly? It’s probably just me. Today’s post is another Where’d I Leave it Wednesday, it seems like the more life story/memoir writing is working for the moment so that’s what I’m going to keep going with.
Today’s story is all about my encounters with religion, there haven’t been many – not including my secondary school Christian assemblies – but some of them are included in this story.
I hope you all enjoy it!
If God Had Siblings
If God had siblings I’m not a religious person. I think that there might be a God but if there is, he’s not that helpful. I was christened. It was the same day my sister got chicken pox and she decided to pick at the spots in the middle of her forehead, right between her eyes. There is a scar there now that I like to poke at. It’s the same size as my fingernail and if I put my finger there it looks like she has grown a horn. She says if it’s a horn then she is a unicorn, I say a rhino.
I haven’t been to Church since I was a young child and my Grandparents believed that if you didn’t go to church at Christmas you couldn’t be buried there. I enjoyed these visits; I didn’t understand the idea of God behind it but I liked playing with the toy sheep of the Nativity scene. I even slipped one into my pocket one year. I named it Dave. We would stand in order of height and sing Christmas carols from the lyrics on the projector. Of course, to me the lyrics looked like the static on a television. A mixture of black and white waves flowing up and down, over and over again. I did what any other visually impaired child, with an imagination, would do. I made the lyrics up myself. I sang loudly every year to the reimagined Christmas carols “Little Doggy” and “Once Royal Daddy’s Sleepy”. I was not talented at singing. The elderly couple that sat behind my family every year would see us enter the church and take from their bags a set of earmuffs each which they would wear as soon as I stepped up on the bench for the carols. Strangely, nobody would correct my wrong lyrics. They allowed me to sing like nails on a chalkboard, louder every year until my Grandma told me we would not be continuing to attend the church carol services. We started going to the Pantomime every Christmas Eve instead. I wasn’t allowed to talk there; I think that is why they chose it.
Even though we stopped attending the church these were not the only moments that they have tried to talk to me. There are always people stood outside the large shopping centre in my town. They are usually dressed all in black, black suits, black dresses, long black overcoats that make them look like sketchy stalkers misplaced from an old Scooby Doo episode. They carry poster boards tucked under one arm, chasing unimpressed customers around the grey bollards like seagulls going after a pasty. Usually I try to avoid them, the idea of them stopping me to try and ask about my views on religion makes me go cold throughout my body.
This one day, I stopped on the pavement the other side of the road to the shopping centre. The paving stones rose up from the ground in front of me, rising and falling, sloping under the ball of my cane like mountains. The texture of the ground changed as my cane met the tarmac of the road. I stopped instantly, allowing my ears to pick up on every sound around me. The whistle came from the left as the air pressure changed, I felt it on the exposed skin of my hands as the bicycle passed me. Then I could hear nothing so I crossed the road. My cane lodged in a hole and I wobbled like a jelly before an arm steadied me. It was an older woman, dressed all in black. “What unsteady feet you have” were the first words the strange woman said to me. It made me think of the story of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf dressed as her Grandmother, I only just stopped myself from checking if the woman had sharp teeth protruding from her mouth. Her coat was zipped up to her chin and leaflets were stuffed in the top pocket where a handkerchief would usually be. They were religious leaflets but she seemed to be trying to help me so I allowed her to lead me towards the shopping centre entrance. Then she started talking. “God wants to help you”, “God wants to make everyone feel happy”. While she continued to animatedly tell me why I should gift my soul to God I watched the drops of heavily falling rain trickle down her cheeks. They looked like tears. Tears don’t make her look happy; God wasn’t making me feel happy right then either. The only things I felt were cold and wet.
I thanked the woman for her help and attempted to pry my arm from her grip. Her face contorted; her smile changed from a fake smile to a frown. “Sinner” she told me “you must be a sinner; God is punishing you and that is why you are blind. If you pray and go to Church, he will remove his punishment and you will be healed.” First, she was telling me that God just wants me to be happy and now she was telling me that he wanted to punish me. I couldn’t think of much that God would want to punish me for, perhaps the time that I pinned my sister to the floor and sat on her chest to keep her there when I was four years old and my sister was seven. If God had siblings then he would understand. I didn’t want to tell her that there was a scientific reason behind my sight loss or that I wasn’t sure I believed in God because I didn’t want to upset her. I walked away from the wolf grandma who continued to call after me “sinner, sinner”. I pretended that I didn’t know it was me she was still talking to. That encounter didn’t change my opinion. I’m still not a religious person.
That’s it for today’s story, I hope everyone enjoyed reading it!