The third and final trip and fall was a long, slow, jagged tumble that had been going on my whole life, a sort of fall from grace, search-for-God-in-everything, spiritual journey. My father was a lapsed Jew. My mother was a lapsed Lutheran. I had the sneaking suspicion that there must be some commonality that would unite all the religions, but I was kind of frustrated and angry that they all seem to have been built by men, for men, with their highest ideal, in the case of Christianity, being a celibate man (talk about lack of romance!).
In an Asian religion class I took the year after I had given birth to my daughter, Maya, the teacher spoke of the highest ideal of Buddhism and Hinduism being renunciation. She undoubtedly oversimplified the philosophies, yet I could barely contain my horror. What an irresponsible, selfish way to worship God, I thought. Yet part of why I had decided to have Maya rather than abort my unplanned teenage pregnancy was my belief in karma and the sacredness of all life.
Later, I started reading about religious history and was absolutely appalled by the corruption, competition, genocide, power struggles, countless episodes of heads being chopped off and burnings at the stake. And New Age religions seemed populated by creepy people who were more concerned with elevating themselves to guru-hood. No religion seemed to have a clean, honest past that I felt I could commit to. None. I wanted no part of any of them.
And yet, I felt very spiritual and connected to the universe. I never stopped believing in some sort of higher being. But I needed an anchor. A role model. A pioneer to lead me onto the path of pleasure for good. I found her one day while I was cleaning. Seriously.
Here is what happened. My husband is happily and devotedly Roman Catholic. I had agreed to marry him in a Catholic ceremony but also had his agreement that I didn't have to convert. I found it funny that the church had no problem with me being an unwed mother -- but if I had been married and divorced with children, I would have had to get an annulment in order to marry him. I guess since the Virgin Mary was an unwed mother, it made it okay. Anyway, I was down on the floor cleaning when I found the following prayer on a magnet stuck to the radiator. It was the prayer that the high school football team my husband had played on 20 years earlier would say before every game. At the time Maya was about nine and entering a more independent phase of her childhood. I was full of fear. I worried obsessively any time she wasn't with me and was terrified that something terrible would happen to her. I read the prayer:
Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your assistance, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto you, O Virgin of Virgins, Our Mother; to you we come; before you we kneel sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your clemency hear and answer them. Amen.
Because I actually was kneeling as I read it (since it was stuck to the radiator for God knows what reason!), I had a moment of enlightenment -- a religious epiphany. It was sort of a "DUH! -- If you want something, ask Mom, don't ask Dad!"