Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Too quick to judge

I get easily frustrated with the Catholic church. The widespread homophobia and lack of respect for women's rights, as well as the (some might think) unnecessary taste for ceremony and symbols grates with my sense of what the Christian religion is all about. However, today I got an idea of the benefits of some of the ceremony and ritual; the feeling of solemnity which focuses the mind and might well help with spiritual life.
What led me there was a sad story. A story I knew of, but didn't really experience until today.
In 1970 a baby boy was born to a married couple. He was a cherished child and I imagine the couple were overjoyed when three years later a second boy came into the family. When he died after only one day I can't begin to feel the parents' pain. The woman became pregnant again and the first son was growing into a fine young boy. You might imagine that with the third child, the pain of the second son's loss would be softened. A few months before the birth of the third child, the son was playing outside the house when a car knocked him down. He died. He was six years old.
The couple went on to have the third child, a girl, and three years later a third boy, Marek.
So today I found myself standing in front of a grave. The grave of a one-day-old boy and his six-year-old brother. I watched their youngest brother, who they never knew, tend to the plants, water the flowers and light the candles and I started to understand, a bit. The lighting of candles need not be an empty ritual, but a personal choice, keeping a memory alive. The traditional ceremony of tending a relative's grave need not be a burden but an opportunity for reflection and prayer, if that's what you need.
So I'm trying to stop myself jumping to conclusions about this way of life. Every culture has its good and bad points and I've not been careful enough to appreciate the positive sides of traditional Catholic Polish culture. I'll keep you posted.

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