I grew up an Episcopalian, or as my friends called it, Catholic Lite, and was confirmed in a little church in Kentucky on the corner of First and Main streets. At that time, there was truly a church on every corner: First Church of the Nazarene, The First Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and our little Episcopalian church with its stained glass windows. In high school, my boyfriend was a Baptist and we alternated Sundays. One week we kneeled, sang to organ music and passed the peace, and the next week we sat for hell fire and brimstone and witnessed dunking baptismals in the sanctuary tank.
This doesn’t have a terrible ending. I didn’t ever feel rejected or betrayed by the church of my youth, just that as I grew older, it wasn’t quite big enough for me. I wasn’t able to resolve, or if not resolve, at least understand, my questions: what about all those other faiths? what about multiple traditions? what about the ancientness of those other beliefs? what about my loving a Jewish boy? I began to study on my own, to puzzle with Zen koans, to marvel at Native story traditions. I married someone who learned Arabic because he fell in love with the Sufi mystics and wanted to read the original language.