variations on a trench coat: Faith, with the pink ribbons & W1L 023: Write one leaf about something you’ve lost.

It's strangely fortunate that this outfit coincides with today's Write One Leaf response, because my pink-beribboned ponytail combined with religious under/overtones reminds me of a famous short story I read in high school, which is why I call this variation on a trench coat...

Variation X: Young Goodman Brown

As you can see, I'm clutching my copy of Never Let Me Go in this photo. That's because I wore this outfit over 3 months ago, when I was still reading NLMG. I am a timely and relevant blogger.

CONFESSION: I don't remember what "Young Goodman Brown" was about. A dude and his wife and maybe some witches or something. I know I liked the prose...

Hair ribbon: no idea. Green thermal: Kohl's. Floral dress: Ross. Tights: BP Nordstrom. Striped socks: Target. Galoshes: Hunter.

W1L 023: Write one leaf about something you’ve lost.

This is my experience with Catholicism. I am not asking you to like it, just to tolerate it.

This is a trivially edited version of my original response to this prompt.

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.

This is something I wrote on Easter Sunday when I was fourteen.

“Today I was woken up to go the Easter Sunday mass. I blatantly did not want to go, and when mother asked me why, I started crying. I told her I did not want to be Catholic and that I do not and did not ever believe that Jesus was the son of God. I do not believe God had a son. I'm not sure if God exists. I believe Jesus existed, or else there would not be so many accounts of his life. However, I don't think he was the son of God. And I don't think God would manifest himself as a mortal man. And I don't know what to think about the Holy Spirit. In any case, my mother did not believe me at first. But I kept crying, and to my surprise, I could not stop. Everyone went to church and I was left with my mother and my angry tears and racking sobs. I didn't realize that I can deal with all my problems except my internal conflicts. I have been in an internal struggle to believe in God all my life. But it's just never been real for me. People are real. I live off life, not off God. Does this mean I will die? I really don't blame myself. Anyway. I didn't realize how much things had been worrying me, things like mother being unemployed and brother going to college, and my best friend drifting away, and my friends caring for me more than I'm worth caring for. I cried for forty five minutes straight until my eyes swelled up and my lips cracked from dehydration and my fingers got pruny from dehydration and cold.”

The Lord is my shepherd.

Do not tell me that because of that one morning in March five years ago, when I renounced my faith, I have lost my way. If in order to not be lost, I have to align myself with an institution that tells me birth control is morally unacceptable, and that the purpose of my life is to give birth, and that gay people are sinners, or contagious, or unnatural, and that being persecuted for my beliefs is the key to the kingdom of heaven, I would rather be lost.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.

What I haven’t lost is the ability to attend a Catholic mass and go through all the motions of being Catholic. After all, I had nine years of practice. I can still genuflect at the right moments and drone my responses in the same intonation as the congregation, still know exactly when to stand and kneel and sit and clasp hands with my neighbor. So really, I haven’t lost anything that I used to have before that Easter.

For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

This is a declaration of my faith today. I believe in people. I believe in love. I believe that all will be forgiven. I believe that love forgives everything. I believe that if you are a part of this world, it does not do to hide from it. I believe that the world is crueler than you anticipated and kinder than you can imagine. I believe that people will hurt you, and that people will heal you, and that you will hurt people and heal people in turn. I believe that shit happens but people are worth living for. I believe that it is the little things, and the warmth of sunlight, and the laughter, and the silence before a kiss, and the reminders of our mortality that set you free. I believe that the depth of our emotions is boundless, and that you will be surprised at how hard you can feel. I believe that sex with the right person at the right time is good. I believe that we underestimate ourselves. I believe that to be a perfect human being is to make a lot of mistakes. I believe that pain is something to be inspected, not feared. I believe that you can help what you do, but you can’t help what you like to do. I believe that you do not have to apologize to God or to anyone else for your past, or how you feel, or what you want. I believe that there is no room for guilt. I believe in positivity, and dark chocolate, and music, and tattered lace, and tentative smiles from strangers. I believe in inclusion, and I believe in language and Harry Potter books and the wonders of human communication. And through all of that, I still believe that it is in giving that we receive.

So you see, I have lost nothing at all.
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