The Faith of My Fathers

January 5, 2012 at 12:57 am (Ruminations.)

I have these little habits that I don’t even realize until – for example – I hear something fall out of my mouth at the end of a prayer. Like,

“InJesusNameAmen”

It’s like one word – injesusnameamen – and when I’m not really thinking about it, there it goes. There if flows out of me, some remnant, some ghost of a spirituality that was ingrained in me as a child, but for whatever reason never really took.

I have the Bible, the little pink pocket Bible – New Testament and Psalms – that I earned as a child for saying (singing) the books of the New Testament. I remember the moment vividly. I had to be somewhere around the age of four. I can see it from my actual point of view, when I close my eyes. I was supposed to say (sing) them in front of – I assume – the class, but I was so scared I wouldn’t do it. I could recite the books, of course, but I didn’t want the attention of getting up in front of the class and saying them. I was afraid. So they let me whisper them to the teacher, but I still had to go up in front of the class to do it. I was even so scared I made him come to the side because I didn’t want to go up front. And then they gave me a little pink Bible with the embossment on the front: Wendy Erin.

I also have an visual of the experience where I am outside myself looking at myself. Of course I am just seeing the little girl from some photo on my grandmother’s dresser. I don’t know what I actually looked like or was wearing or anything, just some fabricated image in my head of the experience. But there she is, up there whispering New Testament song to the teacher.

Matthew, Mark, LukeAndJohn, Ax and the LettersToThe Roh-mans. I still know it well, in fact I sing it in my head almost every time I open the Bible to look up something in the New Testament. Still learning my way around. I wonder how many Bible scholars still use the New Testament song when they are looking up scripture. But the Old Testament? I’m just out of luck, no song for that one. I did memorize the books of the Old Testament at one point – middle school I’m sure – but not being put to music who would be expected to remember them 15 – 20 years later? Why didn’t they ever make up a song for the Old Testament?

I know more than the books though. I know about Joseph and his coat. I know about Abraham. I know about Baby Moses, and – obviously – Noah. Creation, yes. The birth, life, death of Jesus, yes, of course. Tower of Babel. The exodus. The prodigal son. Even some parables I can recall.

But, then…

There are times when I read the Bible, when I’m studying scripture, and this feeling comes over me. It’s like when you see someone that you *know* you have known. But you can’t place where. But you KNOW… that you have known them. There is a certain familiarity that cannot be overlooked, but at the same time you know they are a complete stranger.

So, yes, the Bible and me… we go way back. But somehow…

I just can’t put my finger on it.

And for some reason… it makes my heart ache.

Why didn’t it take? Why did Jesus pass right in front of my face, but not settle in until I was smacked across the face with the horrid-ity of life?

(don’t ask why)

For some reason… even with the faith of my fathers… I had to move beyond it, to find a faith of my own.

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