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24 October 2011 @ 10:46 am
Real LJ Idol: "Only The Light Of The Sun"  
Only The Light Of The Sun

real lj idol | week 1 | 390 words
When you pray, move your feet

x-x-x-x-x

My grandmother wanted better for us—hoped that a holy atmosphere might permeate our spirits, or some gospel-gilded phrase might reach our ears and light the spark of dormant grace.

Dressed in the dour colors of her church, she joined her flock each week. An assemblage more of crows than cardinals, they gathered to hear litanies of human failings and the stark promises of forgiveness. My sister and I were offered Sunday School instead, where bible-based crafts projects culminated in fruit punch and outdoor play. It never held up to climbing the apple trees in my grandmother's yard, or the sweetness of her canned cherries, or the mysterious piles of crisply curled wood shavings waiting to be discovered in my grandfather's workshop.

My grandmother's hopes formed a delicate dance that never quite ended. She took us to church a few times each year (Did she bide her requests against my parents' refusals? I'll never know). I went because it mattered to her. I didn't need to understand the desperation behind it.

What you believe is up to you, my parents said. Neither of them made it out of childhood with the faith their families clung to, but they thought we might be luckier. Believe if you can, they said, it's always so much easier.

My grandmother's bleak brand of Methodism never did take hold. Trips to friends' churches were the same: struggling to keep the restlessness inside during prayers I could no more speak than any other kind of lie. Every sermon centered on the message of Redemption was like a salesman hawking pitches for a car that would not run.

Still, I leave the door open—always open—though no one comes through. Others hear jubilation, but the distant wind has no words for me.

I've been asked whether it is lonely, or empty, or strange, but those questions are rooted in false assumptions: you cannot miss what you never had.

Above, nothing waits and nothing listens. There is only the bright comfort of the sun and the possibility of tomorrow.

For some of us, that is enough.





 
 
 
cindytsuki_no_bara on October 24th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
oooh. i like this. especially "i went because it mattered to her" - not because there was any intrinsic value in it - and the mention of other people's assumptions about the areligious.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 24th, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I think it's very hard for people from a religious background to understand the areligious, because so much of their thinking and assumptions are contextual. They assume you're ignoring something that is "obviously there" because they feel it so strongly, when for you it isn't there at all. Some think it's impossible to have morals without religion, which is one of the stranger ideas I've heard.

When I got older, I understood why all of it mattered so much to my grandmother. But it didn't change anything. :(

Thanks for reading! This is a whole new territory for me.
devon99 on October 24th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
Very thought provoking my dear, and somewhat melancholy.

My father is a very religious man and the fact that myself and my siblings do not practice our religon to the extent that he does, is a constant disappointment to him.

I do however have my own version of faith and sometimes in fleeting moments feel such a tangible connection to God that it almost astonishes me.

That you don't feel that, even though, as you say, you can't miss what you never had, it does sadden me - ha which is ridiculous!!

Very thinky thoughts are now swirling in my head. Cool post.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 03:21 am (UTC)
Our kids used to be in a Jewish daycare (they are being raised in my husband's faith, the American version of Anglican).

One of the things we encountered over and over was mild friction between the more observant and less observant Jews. The Orthodox families who kept kosher and adhered to older laws tended to assume that the more modern families had less 'faith' simply because they were less observant. In reality, the external "style" has little to do with how strongly a person believes.

I don't question whether people believe, or how strongly, because it's a private matter between them and their god, and you can only imply failure with such a question.

All of this is to say that your father is experiencing another form of the same problem, which is all too common. The very faithful may be very observant, but never assume that the non-observant are not faithful!
standgalestandgale on October 24th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
very nice - nice use of adjectives - there's a lot of them but I think it works :) It's a very good description/explanation of lack of religion, a thing which is very difficult to explain gracefully. I like that it is respectful too. Of course, I am primarily non-religious so I am prejudiced towards understanding you - it will be interesting to see how it is understood by people who do hold religious views, what it means to them.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 05:56 am (UTC)
:D I do love my adjectives, though I try not to overdo.

I hope that those who are religious will consider this a different viewpoint, rather than an affront. It's really only about my experience-- it doesn't presume others feel the same (I know they don't. You can't really escape knowing it). Let's hope it's taken in that vein.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
happy is as happy does: Aisha Tylerhappywriter06 on October 24th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC)
Whenever someone explains why they don't believe I'll think of this. This lovely. I really like the passage that discusses the apple trees and your grandfather's workshop.

I believe but I don't practice as in go to church. I find it hard to reconcile my problems with the Bible and organized religion so that I go to church. When your great-grandfather and father-in-law was/is a preacher it's hard. Maybe I'll get there one day.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 06:00 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked this, especially given that this is a different viewpoint from your own.

I know what you mean about the Bible and organized religion. More and more young people are having that problem. That doesn't have to affect your faith, or your convictions. It really is the belief, not the style, that matters (though, given your relatives, I'm sure you've heard different!) You may be able to find a church or a style that's comfortable for you, even if it's not the one your family came from. I hope so. :)
Maerhys: • evemaerhys on October 24th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
So lovely with a tender touch that is familiar but not sentimental. I especially love this line → My grandmother's hopes formed a delicate dance that never quite ended.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 06:05 am (UTC)
Looking back, I know that it must have been hard for her. She wanted my sister and I to have the religion my parents lacked, but also knew that to stress that too much was a rejection of them.

Sometimes, I think my grandfather stopped believing, too. I just don't know when. The oldest son became a Methodist minister, though. That had to have been a relief for her.
whipchickwhipchick on October 25th, 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
Your voice is really lovely - great metaphors!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 06:06 am (UTC)
Thank you!

This topic was a difficult fit for me, and I decided to go with the truth rather than make something up. Let's hope that doesn't come back to haunt me!
hurricanes & heartachesrejeneration on October 25th, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)


Grandmother's man.

I'm so glad you're doing this. =)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
:) I think probably everyone has been through that with their grandmother to some degree, though mine had more of a reason than most.

Thanks for your encouragement in trying this! I hope I survive at least enough rounds to try out some other topics. ♥
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

I really wanted to capture some of the magic of my grandparents' house (always magic, when you're little, and for reasons that adults have usually forgotten). I loved them both dearly, and the whole church situation came up only a few times a year.

There was so much more I could have put into that opening section, but it would have really weakened the topic. Still have those memories, though. :)
in your name i find meaningeuphonious_13 on October 25th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
Well done. Very intriguing and beautiful.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It is so gratifying to see that this is the impression this entry leaves!
Danmuchtooarrogant on October 25th, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
Reading your entry brought back so many memories from my own childhood. I too went to church with my Grandma, not because I truly believed, but out of respect for her. "God is love," she would tell me, to which I would respond internally, "I don't know about that, but I love you."

Well done.

Dan
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 25th, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, this sounds so much like what I went through. She only took us to church a few times a year (which was my parents' way of also "leaving the door open"), and the importance she placed on it was mystifying, but I went to please her.

I'm sure there are many more children who went almost weekly, and felt all of this still more strongly. At worst, it's boredome, and what is that compared to the a grandmother's love?
(no subject) - muchtooarrogant on October 25th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
nodressrehersalnodressrehersal on October 26th, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
Really well written. I love this:
...where bible-based crafts projects culminated in fruit punch and outdoor play. It never held up to climbing the apple trees in my grandmother's yard, or the sweetness of her canned cherries, or the mysterious piles of crisply curled wood shavings waiting to be discovered in my grandfather's workshop.

I think it's important for people to remember that this is a writing competition, and whether they agree or disagree with the vantage point should be irrelevant.

Added to my handful of favorites so far.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 27th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed this, and thanks for your lovely comments!
(no subject) - nodressrehersal on October 27th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on October 27th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - nodressrehersal on October 27th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
basric: Basric Beebasric on October 26th, 2011 05:19 am (UTC)
Nicely written.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 27th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.n3m3sis42 on October 26th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
I really liked the way you worded this!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 27th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
It was a real challenge, given the topic, but I tried to work with it from my viewpoint while still honoring the prompt. Thanks for reading!
Myrnamyrna_bird on October 27th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
I like that the door is still open....
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 27th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
It's always open, because you never know...
(Anonymous) on October 27th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
Some great phrases in here, like An assemblage more of crows than cardinal and struggling to keep the restlessness inside during prayers I could no more speak than any other kind of lie. Lovely. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 27th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad someone noticed those lines. The first one shows such a distinction between the religious of my grandmother's era and people now. The second goes to the prompt, but is also how it feels to be on the 'other side' of a really common situation. I don't think most people would ever imagine it being so uncomfortable, or exactly why, but it is.

Thanks for reading and commenting!