Talk about an experience with faith, your own or someone else's.
I look back on my formative years with my family and how it has effected everything I do and everything I am today. It is as if they innately passed so much on to me, perhaps by metamorphosis, perhaps by repetition, but mostly by brow beating me into submission and acceptance of their beliefs in God, Catholicism, Purgatory and the Saintly Sisters. And the big one, Life After Death.
My parents belief in Life After Death led them to exercise an existence that put God in front of everything. Attending Mass on Sunday was just the tip of the iceberg. There was Wednesday night adoration, Saturday afternoon confession, Friday abstinence of meat, First Friday mass, Ash Wednesday service, Good Friday service, Palm Sunday service, Midnight mass for Christmas, Holy Matrimony, Seven Deadly Sins, Lent, Advent candles, exorcisms, miracles, dispensations, Mass said in Latin, the Second Vatican Council, and on and on and on ending with excommunication and pardons from the Pope. Please do not think I am kidding, any Irish Catholic kid from the 60's will attest to the validity of my list.
It all boiled down to this, my parents had faith.
Faith. Such a simple word and yet so hard to comprehend. So difficult to fully understand.
You can listen all day to the stories from the pulpit delivered by retired Jesuits about exorcism and feel the truth of his convictions, of his experience filling every crevice of the church.
You can sit at the dining room table and listen to your Dad's WWII stories. The same stories you have heard all your life (the same stories that you wish you had recorded or paid closer attention to after Pop's is gone) about him being separated from his unit and staggering into a church in a small French village and falling into a deep sleep. Upon waking he walks outside and the entire village is bombed to kingdom come, except for the church. Except for where he slept, undisturbed.
I would listen to all, wide eyed and skeptical. I did not realize I was skeptical. I would accept without resistance their experiences and then go on about my business, my little life.
And then it happens to you. The Hand of God swoops down. And you get Religion. It might not be as dramatic as a demonic presence moving baby furniture and Teddy Bear's around a newborns room or the rest of the world blown to smithereens to get your attention.
But your attention is grasped by the neck, by circumstance, by the situation and you are helpless.
You give it up to God because there is nothing you can do. You have no control.
When the smoke clears, the hurricane moves on, the sun comes out and you are alive.....then you believe in something. You have to believe in something.
The alternative is unthinkable.
That is Faith.