Encompasses all aspects of life, religion lives through you, and your thoughts and actions prove the belief.
First time I was at a church service, I was an 8-year-old playing piano on the stage for the Christmas worship. It might have been Beethoven or Bach. All I could recall was my fear of playing the wrong notes and making a fool of myself. My feet dangled above the pedals.
Kneeling on the floor, hands in prayer position. My piano teacher whispered softly…
She: Dear God, please give this child the courage to play in front of the crowds this Sunday. She has worked hard and practiced for this special day of yours. Let her not be nervous and make mistakes. And even if she did, let her stay calm and continue playing. Amen.
Me: …. *eyes shut; hands in prayer as the teacher instructed*
She: This is when you also say amen.
Me: Amen. *dazed*
Growing up in Taiwan, I had no concepts of religion.
It would not hit me until much later that my piano teacher was Catholic.
Sitting in the back row of the church, I couldn’t stop myself from crying. Shoulders trembling and voice quavering, I felt awakened for the first time…
He: It’s okay. Now you know. *arms around my shoulders*
Me: I didn’t know all those were sins, jealousy, premarital sex, revenge, pride and so much more. I regretted my actions. So ignorant. Why hadn’t my parents taught me these? *sniffed*
He: They are not Christians, so of course, they had no idea. At least, you know now. Perhaps you’d be able to tell or show them.
Moving to Canada, that was my first concept of sins.
Black and white, wrong and right, it’s either this or that.
I had a guideline to align and measure myself.
Glorify God and minimize me. Repent when I have done much wrong. That is ungodly.
Parked on the side street, we’ve sat in the dark for more than two hours. The only light source spilled in from the dingy shawarma place a few feet away. A little drowsy from the burger and fries, our minds tried to keep up with the stimulating conversation…
He: So which religion is right? They can’t all be right because you will find conflicted ideas in all teachings. One God or many Gods? This just doesn’t make sense. *shook his head*
Me: Hmm have you asked these questions at the mosque? *uncertain how to answer*
He: Yes and they weren’t able to answer them. They simply told me to read the Quran and not ask questions.
Me: Maybe you can come to one church service and ask our pastor these questions?
He: Ya maybe, but I had forgone all the fun I could have in my 20s. I didn’t drink, party or have sex. All these, for what? *genuine frustration*
Most people practice Taoism in Taiwan. Part of the ritual is ancestor worship.
My earliest childhood revolves around me holding incense sticks and repeating my parents’ prayer in front of a blood-red shrine at my grandparents’ house.
For me, it was a tradition, not a religion.
It’s hard to find the right words to say. When you know your friends are in great pain and self-blame, nothing you say seems to comfort their emotions. Typed and erased, I stared at the blinking cursor…
Me: You are entitled to your all your feelings. It’s been exhausting the past six months. Cut yourself some slack.
She: Thank you… I’m luck to have a support system like you.
Me: You’ve also been mine 🙂 also, I’ve been listening to audiobooks on self-compassion and Buddhism.
She: Really? What does it say?