Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Good Friday brings memories of time spent with my mother.  When she was older, she took great delight in excursions to western Massachusetts, to the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge.  We made it a late tradition to take our mother to lunch there on Good Friday.  Whomever of her seven children were available took time to spend that day with our Mom.  She loved to sit with her kids in the elegant restaurant of the Inn, and because it was Good Friday those of us who still feared repercussions ordered something meat-free.  Those of us who weren't concerned with such limitations ordered whatever we wanted! 

I make it a habit never to talk about politics or religion.  Both are extremely personal matters, and I prefer not to wear either on my sleeve.  As a good friend recently said, my politics are expressed in the voting booth.  My religion is private, though I'm revealing a little bit here.

I often recall aspects of growing up Catholic. I went to church every Sunday and Holy Day.  Easter was especially important.  Good Friday meant fasting, and being quiet between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m..  It also meant being in church for confession and the Stations of the Cross.  I remember the ominous weight of each station.  Each year, it was as if the tragic story was unfolding again for real, and I felt the impact of that through and through.  Decades later, calendars dictate certain dates are important to observe,  and I am aware, but it all seems diffused somehow.  Yes, it is good Friday.  No, I won't eat meat.  I don't really know why - perhaps it is "spirit memory" or some other deeply-ingrained habit.  I often think of church rules as political and man-made, and not divine in origin.  All those years of bobby-pinning Kleenex to our heads before entering church, all those years of fearing the confessional, all the exposure to the weaknesses of the church as an institution and its clergy -- I must admit it is hard for me to muster reverence.

If I need a direct line to God, I have it in a simple prayer or in a good deed.  I just don't feel the need for a middle man.  Perhaps I'm a user -- embracing those aspects of organized religion that work for me and rejecting those that don't.  In my mind, there is so much universality to the diverse faiths of the world.  The important thing is that we try to live good lives by treating each other well, and acknowledging the beauty and the need that are with us, every day. I think that's where spirituality lives.

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