Friday, September 14, 2007

Prayer Therapy

When I was really sick and my son was in Sunday School and later Hebrew School, I realized how much I dislike organized religion. Or maybe it just was the people at our temple. The two families with whom we carpooled kicked us out of the carpool because they said I drove too fast.The truth was that they drove too slowly. In fact, I'm a terrific driver and I haven't had a ticket or an accident since I was a teenager (and perhaps had one of each).

I believe they chose not to carpool with us because of my illness. It hurt my feelings, made me angry, and was truly a hardship. Once we no longer had a carpool, it meant that I had to drive my son on Wednesdays and Sundays (although my husband helped out when I wasn't feeling well).

What bothered me most was that here we were, participating in religious activities, reciting prayers about "loving our neighbors," and their behavior toward me was as uncharitable as any I've experienced.

Once my son was finished with Sunday school, I quit the temple and wrote a letter to the executive director explaining why. By this time, the rabbi I liked so well had retired. From then on, I only attended temple with my mother, who was still a member. I didn't enjoy it although I liked being with her.

A few years ago, when mom became less mobile, I began celebrating the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) with my mother in her home. I would bring the booklets we'd used in the services and we would recite prayers together. We would alternate reading the rabbi's part. It was better than any of the services I'd ever attended.

Last night, I went to Casa del Mar to visit my mother and I brought the Rosh Hashanah booklet. She wasn't feeling well so once I'd gotten her in bed, I read an abbreviated service aloud to her. I read all the parts and she lay there with her eyes closed. I wasn't sure whether she was asleep or awake but I felt that my voice, and the prayers she's known for some many years, would be comforting.

While I no longer consider myself a religious person, spirituality is very important to me. As I sat reading the prayers, I felt a peacefulness and calm. I have dear friends (whom I met through this blog) who find comfort and solace in their religion. Last night, I understood why.


Howard said...

Nice post, Susan. Thanks for sharing this. It's very special that you and your mom can share that aspect of life together.

JayPeeFreely said...

I have a story about my mother that was similiar in bent about being "rejected" for little or no reason in concert to being in the Catholic faith.

She too, decided not to go to church much after that.

But I am glad your a spiritual sort...and not religious as such.

But you know much more than I'll ever know about that area...

Have a good one!

Syd said...

I agree with Howard.

I understand your ambivalence about organized religion. My inner child still hears my parents voices telling me that I "should" go to church every Sunday. But my outer adult realizes that I've seen just as much dishonesty, immorality and downright meanness in the church as outside of it, and to me it's worse because my expectations for "church people" were higher. I stopped going to church during my last depression because I realized that I was lonelier in church than I was at any other time. I wish I went to a church like Marjas!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Thanks Howard, JayPee, and Syd,
Doesn't everyone wish they prayed at a house of worship like Marja's. I think it's time for me to do my once-every-decade search for a new place to pray. I'll keep everyone posted!


marja said...

So - my church is becoming famous, is it? How neat! But I'm sure there must be other churches like mine around....Or is it my positive attitude that helps me see my church the way I do? I wonder.

For me what happened was there were two or three people there who I connected well with. These people, including the pastor, helped me grow spiritually. Now I play a part in making the church what it is.

But not everyone at my church is the way these people have been for me. I think you might find disappointing Christians in my church as well - as you would anywhere. But we need to forgive and realize that we are, after all, human. And no one is perfect. I've learned we need to accept each other - the bad with the good. And if we love others the way Christ taught us to love, we will be loved back.

marja said...

...I hope I didn't come across as suggesting that you and Sydney aren't loving people, Susan. That wasn't what my intention at all.

Those key individuals sure showed me what love looks like, though - true, godly love. And it's something that's a joy to pass along. It becomes infectious. I guess that can really affect a congregation.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

I didn't feel that you were suggesting that Sydney and I are not loving (although I can't speak for Sydney, I'm sure she would concur).

However, I do believe that in many temples, churches, mosques, and other houses of worship, people don't practice what they preach.

And I want to say once again--I believe that people of all religions, independent of their beliefs--which may or may not include Christ--will be "loved" by their God.


marja said...

It's true. How often people don't practice what they preach - everywhere! And how often stigma seems to over-ride the goodness they are taught to have in their houses of worship! And how - when we realize that God loves each and everyone of us - so many of us don't know how to pass that love on. So many don't even seem to want to try.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...