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Poems - Losing Faith


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Losing Faith

by John

I don’t call myself a Catholic anymore.

I was raised by my mother, grandmother and grandfather who were all Catholic. I even went to a Catholic school until high school.

My grandmother would go to church every Saturday night with my aunt, and if my mother was working a weekend, I’d stay home with my grandfather and we’d eat boiled hotdogs on buns steamed over a water filled frying pan. I can still smell the fried peppers and onions.

Sunday morning I’d go to church with my grandfather, but we’d always stand in the back, just outside the inner sanctum doors. To this day I don’t fully understand or remember why, but I think one of his reasons was that he didn’t go to confession and so he didn’t feel he could sit in church.

Why didn’t he go to confession? I don’t know.

He may have also wanted to get out of there quickly to beat the traffic jam, but that might just me remembering another side of my grandfather.

At least once a week during school, we would all have to go to mass. Also, every morning in school right after we recited the pledge of allegiance to the Flag, we would say the Our Father.

I still remember that prayer as any child raised saying it daily would...

Our father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses...

I can still go to church and get through a service without hardly missing a beat...

Once I went to high school I still went to church – because it was expected, because my mother and my new step father made me. It was important to them.

Then during my sophomore year my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer.

Advanced colon cancer.

The doctors removed a grapefruit sized tumor from his large intestine, installed a colostomy bag, and put him on a heavy regiment of chemotherapy.

This was back in 1984, so cancer research wasn’t what it is today.

By 1986 he had died. He had died after two years of me watching him waste away. My grandfather was the man who taught me to fish, who taught me how to make furniture – how to build out of wood anything I wanted, the man who showed me the right way to cut a lawn, how to change the oil in a tractor, how to grow vegetables...

"You have to remove the suckers from the tomato vines... here, pinch them off with your thumb and index finger... yes, that’s it, next to the base of the vine..."

Before the cancer came back, we re sided his house. He was on chemo and could only work a few hours a day. It took all summer, but he did it himself – with me mostly watching and learning.

During that winter we built an ice boat together.

A real ice boat – with a till and a mast. Blades ground sharp as his memory on a special jig we assembled in the basement – just for this project.

We could only work at it a few hours a day because he would get so tired. The cancer was coming back and he knew it, but he kept at it. The boat probably took his mind off of his disease, and it made me happy. It gave us something to do together. Just like cooking those hot dogs back when I was so little and everything was fine...

back when building a tool box was just a lesson.

Grampa was getting skinnier and skinnier. By this point he was a shell of the man I used to know. His skin hung on an almost forgotten huge frame. It hung like worn linen left on a shipwreck - you know the picture.

One day we finished that ice boat, but by then Grampa was too weak to go outside. It was February. So my cousin Vin loaded that boat in the back of his truck and we went to the lake behind his house. Vin had his video camera...

...I sat in the boat, the wind pulled the mast tight and I was gliding across the ice, February air filling my lungs and... it sailed.

It sailed.

It sailed like crap.

The boat didn’t turn so well – the blades weren’t quite sharp enough, but that could be fixed.

Later that day I watched the video with my Grandfather. Our boat clumsily gliding across that small pond.

"We’ll have to redo the blades." my grandfather agreed... "we’ll get to it once I feel better."

I agreed. I was growing older, I was 14 and to be honest seeing him getting sicker and sicker was hard for me to deal with...

still I prayed, and still I went to church, and every time I went to church I prayed to this god I was raised on to let my grandfather get better. Every night I would pray to let him heal.

My Grandfather died in March. A late night phone call after my grandmother had to call the ambulance. A hurried trip to the hospital. The entire family saying a last good bye – everyone gathered round oh so ghoul like - for a last glimpse of our collective father... for one last horrible memory of what can happen to a body - the oxygen mask making it nearly impossible for him to speak. His squeezing my hand as I say, "I love you Gramps." squeeze... (I love you too)

If you've had many people close to you die, you can recognise the smell of death. Its sickly.

I didn’t pray at the funeral, but I left a small note in his breast pocket as he lay in his open casket. I don’t remember what it said. I think it was just "I’ll miss you and I love you..." but I’ll never be sure.

Now why don’t I believe in god? Why don’t I call myself a Catholic any more?

It’s not because of the Churches official hate policy towards homosexuals. It’s not because of their utter lack of disregard for the best interim solution to curbing aids in Africa – their denouncement of condoms. I didn’t stop calling myself a Catholic because of any stem cell debate, their position on abortion, their continued oppression of women, not even because of their rare and now discontinued sheltering of pedophiles disguised as priests. I found out about all of these issues long after I stopped believing in the church...

because when my grandfather died, I came to believe any god that would give a man such as him such a horrible disease, cause him to suffer the way he did, and refuse to answer my prayers - should not exist.

It’s a childish viewpoint I carry to this day. I know all of the arguments as to why his cancer could be viewed as a test, as a message, as a allegory as to why "god works in mysterious ways..." but I don’t want to believe them.

If a god that is capable of so much good also lets the amount of evil go on in this world – and expects the world to solve it’s own evils – to stop it’s own wars, halt it’s own genocide’s, cure it’s own pandemics and find cures for it’s own cancers, then I just don’t see what good having a faith does me.

And frankly I’d rather not believe in god than to remain pissed at him for what he did to my grandfather... and I bet that’s sad to hear for some people, but it’s just easier for me.

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you are a brave man (Score: 1 )
by Mayo on Thursday, August 09, 2007 (20:13:53)
you are a brave man to put this in the spiritual section.

| Parent
    you are a brave man (Score: 1 )
    by John on Thursday, August 09, 2007 (21:00:34)
    Pro and Con... this section works for either.

    | Parent
    you are a brave man (Score: 1 )
    by Mayo on Thursday, August 09, 2007 (21:18:53)
    you are brave, nontheless.

    | Parent

Greetings John A (Score: 1 )
by silent_lotus on Sunday, August 26, 2007 (06:50:09)
Greetings John

A wonderful poem with a beautiful ending

And frankly I’d rather not believe in god than to remain pissed at him for what he did to my grandfather

a warm smile
silent lotus

| Parent

[ John's profile | Commenting Members (2) | | ]

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