Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another early experience

I was around 5 years old and was living with my grandparents on my mom's side. We were going to move to Scotland within the next year, my dad had already moved there and my mom wanted to spend time with her parents before we moved.

My grandparents lived in a double-wide on the Homosassa river. My grandfather had owned a lot of land and the house my mom grew up in had been about 500 meters away at a high point, away from the threat of floods that can easily take over a house in Florida. I'm not sure of all the circumstances but at some point they sold much of the land and the small orange grove and moved closer to the river. I still remember the long driveway lined with orange trees, the palm trees, the swampy area that housed the gator that ate my grandparent's dog, the dock extending out into the river. I remember climbing into a tall orange tree, at least at that age I thought it was tall, and basking in the smell of orange blossom. I remember all of this every time I peel an orange and the spray fills my nose with all these powerful memories. Oranges will forever remind me of these times.

But I'm here to write about my religious experiences and my path to self awareness. One night the power went out. Something that any adult will deal with in stride but for a 5 or 6 year-old it's a scary experience. The candles were lit. My grandmother's praying Jesus-hand sculpture was lit by the flickering light. I knelt down and prayed something like, "Dear Lord, I'm scared. Please turn on the lights. Amen." And I kid you not, the lights came on that very moment. It was as if I had brought the dead back to life, my mom and grandmother were ecstatic! According to them ours was the only house on the river with lights.

This stuck with me for a long, long time afterward. I thought I was something special. Of course, subsequent prayers went unanswered. To this day I wish that particular prayer had been ignored and the one where I win the lottery had been heard!

But prayer to a child is often a selfish thing. My son still wants to pray at bedtime, and I still pray with him. But I make sure that rather than just praying for sweet dreams that we ask for God to watch over our loved ones. Even that is selfish now that I think of it. It seems logical in a "selfish gene" sort of way. I wonder how many people, out of 6 billion, actually think about all of the people in need. Even with billions of people following the word of God we have millions out there who suffer. According to there are 3.6 billion Christians and Muslims combined and about a billion atheists/non-believers. If over half the world's population either thinks that Jesus was God or at least his prophet, then there should be no strife in the world because 50% of us should love our neighbors. But it is the Christian and Islamic nations that seem to cause today's non-natural strife (as opposed to natural strife, like earthquakes).

Anyway, I'm rambling. I just thought I would mention that when I was a kid I prayed for light and there was light, and it was good.

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