Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'm going to break recent tradition today, and not talk about Musica Surfica for one post, as it's Sunday.

The day a lot of people go to church.

Now I'm a lapsed Catholic. And by lapsed I mean see ya later alligator, out the door, gone for love and money and don't forget to turn out the lights.

All this started when I was about four. We were a Mass on Sunday, don't eat meat on Friday family, and I had my first day at school in February, 1959. I also got hit that day for talking. Not a good start.

We learned by rote the Catechism, (who made the world - God made the world) etc etc.

By the following year I was well and truly in the loop, knew all about heaven and hell, limbo, purgatory, and all the sins. Mortal, venial, and the appropriate punishments for all. None were pretty, and eternal damnation for not going to church on a Sunday really took the cake. I also said my prayers every night and believed the lot.

One day in that September we were all getting dressed on a cold early spring morning. Dad had just left for work, Mum was wizzing about, seeing to our tiny needs. Kathy, 5, Brendan, 3, little Julieanne, 18 months and I at 6 were taking turns huddling in front a small bar radiator to get warm.

I'd left the room and I didn't see what happened but Julie over balanced, touched the bar, and was electrocuted.

My next memory is Mum yelling at me to get help as she put Julie on a bed to give mouth to mouth. I ran outside, screamed to a neighbour to call an ambulance, and went back and prayed while Mum tried to save her.

My last and lasting memory of Julie is a small pink burn mark on her finger. It is vivid, photographic and will never leave me.

She died on the way to hospital.

At that moment, the rot set in for me, and the rest of the family I'm sure, and I for one realised I'd been sold a packet of wet crackers when it came to religion. We all went through the motions for about ten more years, I still said my prayers (God bless Mummy and Daddy, Kathy and Brendan, Grandma, Grandpa, Mumma and Poppa and Aunty Brenda, and Julieanne in heaven...)

But that dwindled away and sometime in the early seventies, Dad marched out for the last time when our 80 odd year old parish priest launched into a fire and brimstone denouncement of late comers to church, only to realize he'd begun mass early.

That was it for Dad, and I'd just been going because of tradition.

My belief system evolved into one centred on the golden rule...Do unto others etc. I lapsed often, and as a twenty something in the seventies and early eighties I did as much doing as I could as often as I could, but that was what you did, wasn't it?

Still, I tried my best, and still do, and it's what I tell my kids.

In the late nineties, I met and became friends with Nat Young. Nat, bless him, is a big, opinionated lunk, who has a few little wisdoms he likes to share.

One is about surfing, and the importance of keeping a beat. Another revolves around his motto, 'make it a beautiful life'. And the other is spreading Tom Blake's message of the "Church of the Open Sky'.

This one I've always liked, and knew it long before I met Nat, but tell it to a non Open Sky person and they look at you kind of strange.

But the fact is this Open Sky is what surrounds this little planet of ours. A view of the earth from space reveals it as a tiny mote in the vastness, and this for all of us is IT. We live, die, and all human existence is played on this delicate stage.

We divide ourselves through tradition, religion, tribe and race... but we are all human, and in our humanity we are equal.

I believe there is no surety of heaven, nirvana or 70 virgins waiting in paradise, that doing the right thing by our fellow man or woman is an end in itself and a good enough reason for being here.

And the oblivion of death is no worse than the oblivion before we were born. You just aren't, just as once you weren't, and then were.

Our legacy is the memory of our existence, good or bad. Our immortality is our children, and the world we leave them.

On another note, Clayfin mentioned he thought one of my sunset shots below would have looked better with a kitten in it.

Behold The Kitten. And it's cuter than a Golden Calf.


nmm said...

Amen to Open Sky...

clayfin said...

That kitten looks pretty worried, perhaps he lacks faith. My wife believes that God would provide many paths to him, not just one. Thinking positive thoughts for you and your sister.

Gazelle said...

Wonderfully well-written post, Mick. Thanks for that.

Praise the Open Sky!

ras said...

I grew up in Venezuela and was fully immersed into the Catholic tradition. Never could swallow the pill though and I was a first rate sinner. We moved to the states when I was 12 -got kicked out of Sunday school for asking too many questions and making the other kids "question their faith." I've been a happier man ever since. Halleluiah.

Where can I read more of your writing? Have you any novels, stories?

Gaz said...

I too have lapsed.........thanks Mick, lovely sentiments.

Beach Bum said...

Mick - faith is the essence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. A very moving post man. I've stuck you under Beach Bum's Best Bloggers - quality stuff!