A conversation about God

Made in China“Mommy, I know God didn’t make everything,” my nephew David states (seemingly out of the blue) to my sister as they ride home from Tae-Kwon-Do class.

My sister Arianna is seated in front of the car and trying to drive without crashing into the other hundred or so parents also leaving the neighborhood center where the class is offered. She can’t turn around and look at his face to figure out where he’s going with this. All she can do is glance at him through the rearview mirror.

“What do you mean, baby?” she asks him, hoping to get some clarification on what he’s thinking. With David, figuring out his thought process is the challenge and the fun of talking with him.

My sister is determined to raise him Catholic. My brother-in-law Tomas is non-religious in the most basic way: while he believes in God (theoretically) his family never attended church services or became “attached” to any religion in particular. He has no strong affiliations. Arianna, however, was raised Catholic from back when we still attended Mass every Sunday, so she wants her son to have the same experience. That’s one of the reasons why she put him in a Catholic school for Pre-Kindergarten. When it came time to choose private schools (we absolutely don’t qualify for any of the free options) she ended up at a “Saint” something or other.

David did not enjoy Mass… but that’s a conversation for another post.

“God didn’t make everything,” he repeats, as if this should be evident to her. His six-year-old mind frequently cannot grasp why the things that are “obvious” to him require explanations for the rest of us. He’s got that eye-roll and frustrated huff down to a science.

“Of course he did,” my sister counters. And she proceeds to tell him that God made the earth and the people, etc., etc.

He doesn’t let her finish. “All my toys say ‘Made in China.’ So I know he didn’t make my toys.” Saying this he waves one of the toys in question, reading the label on it.

And my sister had one of those flabbergasted moments of silence that’s become commonplace when interacting with her son.

She regrouped and explained, or tried to explain, what “everything” means when talking about “God made everything,” but she never changed his mind that that statement excluded his toys. “Maybe he made everything but toys,” he decided.

Cathecism class is going to be interesting.

* * *


Is coffee a sin?

brew precious drops
Today I had coffee. Since I gave up coffee for Lent, does that make drinking the coffee a sin?

I usually don’t have problems giving things up for Lent. I’ve chosen sweets, bread, meat, Diet Coke and many other things over the years. I always manage to make it to Easter without cheating.

This year is different.

I’ve been hyperventilating over money and it came down to a decision between breaking my diet, going on another spending spree, or having a pot of coffee. I had the coffee. And, yes, I literally mean that I drank an entire pot of coffee.

God will just have to forgive me. 

* * *


World beware, I gave up coffee

CoffeeI am a non-practicing Catholic. I don’t attend mass. I don’t belong to a church. Actually, I don’t even know where the closest Catholic church is. But I still consider myself to be Catholic; I guess I always will. And it’s more than just habit. I looked into other religions and decided that Catholicism suited me best, even in the nominal non-practicing way I I have it in my life.

Every year I observe Lent. I do this for two reasons: because, despite my shortcomings, I do still consider myself to be Catholic; and, because I join the rest of my family in this yearly ritual.

Every year I give up something for Lent. I put thought into what that “something” is because I want it to be an act that’s going to have an impact. It’s not something small that I won’t miss. It’s something I actually enjoy, crave, delight in on a regular basis. Something that’s going to make me suffer, even if a litte bit. For the period of Lent I deny myself something, and it’s a little bit of an act of faith in myself and in my religion.

Previous years have included giving up meat (I’m not a vegetarian), sweets, bread, Diet Coke and other things. Usually the first two or three weeks are the hardest. But by the time Easter rolls around, I’ve become accustomed to the deprivation.

This year, however, I’m giving up coffee. Coffee. My life’s blood. My most favorite beverage. The thing that keeps me sane. The thing that keeps my mood swings in check enough that I don’t cause damage to others.

I will miss it. I will suffer, more than just a little bit. It will have impact.

The world, however, should worry. I am not going to be pleasant for the next six weeks.

sweet surrender

I am a non-practicing Catholic, or at least that’s what I always say. I don’t attend Mass and I don’t really follow the rules of the Church. I do, however, observe the Lenten tradition of giving something up from Ash Wednesday (TODAY) until Easter. Last year I became a vegetarian. This year I’m swearing off sweets. I know that to some that doesn’t sound like too big a deal, but it is. Allow me to point out that that means no chocolate and that I am currently relationship-less (I need chocolate). That means no candies, no birthday cake, no pastel de tres leches, no cheesecake, nothing. In spite of the fact that I have a tremendous sweet tooth, I will and I can survive.

So, if it’s that big a deal, why do I do it? This is my one concession to the traditions my family observes and follows. It’s the one thing I do every year that allows me to restate that while I do not get along with organized religion, I do still believe in God. It’s a statement to myself that there is something bigger than the trivial and not-so-trivial everyday things that I get caught up in all of the time. It’s my act of hope and belief.

Taken in that context, forty days or so of sweet-less existence really doesn’t seem like too big a sacrifice. I’ll let you know how it’s gone when it’s over.

Buena suerte, gente.

Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe

Okay, I’ll admit that I’m not the most religious person in the world. As a non-practicing Catholic, I’m not even close. But I am Catholic enough and Mexican enough to know that el doce de diciembre is día de la Virgen de Guadalupe. I know it like I’d know the birthday of a close family member or a holiday. It’s a date that’s always been celebrated as a representation of a miracle, a testimonial of my faith and my roots. And even here, in the U.S. and in my non-practicing Catholic way of life, I give it enough respect and thought to say my Ave Maria.

“Dios te salve Maria
llena eres de gracia . . .”