Universally United.

For many years now I have disliked organized religion, or at least that was my belief. The rebellion from my Mormon upbringing began about 8 years ago and only in the past few did I reconcile some of my bitterness toward organized religion, specifically within the LDS faith. I've pondered what religion can do for me, the value of lessons learned in my classes, and considered how I can incorporate the positive experiences into my completely different life.

I am not Christian. I am not Muslim. Neither am I Buddhist nor Jewish. I choose not to define my religious standing mostly because I do not claim religion. As far as I know I am the only person within all of my extended family to feel this way and I have no desire to hide behind a facade. I am me. I am not a missionary of a lifestyle and asking others to change their ways is not my game. I do my best to respect all. I love others, and I love myself, and I strive for continued growth.

But I must admit that there is two major attributes of religious communities that I miss: one, the music and two, the community.

One Sunday I attended a Unitarian Universalist service in Fond du Lac and the Open Circle congregation was more than welcoming. This wasn't my first time at a UU function; I had attended briefly in Logan.

Amazing!

The water ceremony, a unifying experience of combining water from personal travels and experiences over the summer, was beautiful. I have always been one attracted to water and its symbolism. Each person and family is invited to bring water from their various activities over the course of the summer, pour some into the communal bowl, and tell what their water represents or signifies. Waters hailed from: the oceans, a bakery, the back faucet, terrible flood waters, and even in the small congregation of about 50, water from 2 different peoples' time in the Rocky Mountains of Utah. I was overjoyed to pour water from my own bottle and share my travels, combining mine with the waters of home.

We also sang a hymn that day with these lyrics:

I've got peace like a river in my soul.
I've got joy like a fountain in my soul.
I've got love like an ocean in my soul.
I've got pain like an arrow in my soul.
I've got tears like the raindrops in my soul.
I've got strength like a mountain in my soul.
-Marvin V Frey
(I've got peace like a river)


That Sunday was my absolute best day in Wisconsin and one of the best days in all of my AmeriCorps experience, and mostly because of the comfort I found in a loving community-- it was as if I were home again. I was a new face in the crowd and they all accepted me, some even pursued friendships. A wonderful couple, Dave & Madonna, invited our entire AmeriCorps group to their house for dinner after meeting a couple of us at the Sunday service! They served a bounteous Autumn dinner of black bean soup & curried squash soup with fresh bread and tomatoes, scooped ice cream onto plates of delicious apple pie from a local orchard, played board games with us and allowed us free reign of their beautiful home.

I suppose I'm writing this blog to remember some of the good times in Fond du Lac. The work was exhausting but rewarding and the people were all extremely friendly. We, our AmeriCorps group, even made the best of our situation and enjoyed our time in our housing.

One day after wallowing a bit over our lives we played a game of pretend in the kitchen of the golf course: What if this, right here and now, were the kitchen of our apartment and the three of us (Tyler, Amanda, Alyssa) had all chosen to live together? It's like we're just sitting on the kitchen floor for the fun of it and eating bad food because we're poor college students again.

From Project: FEMA 1768, Disaster Relief


Also, the hilarious memories of frequent extended rounds of Speed Solitaire card games, sometimes last many many hours.

From Project: FEMA 1768, Disaster Relief


After finding out I would be departing a day earlier from our project than the rest of our team, we decided a serious game of cards was in order. We laid down a few ground rules: no eating, no looking at clocks, and kill our usual winner Sara. We played the hardest we'd ever played, until our eyes watered and sagged with sleep deprivation and our sanity began to slip under the pressure of winning.

woman's voice. empty stage.

FUCK THIS SHIT. THESE STAIRS DON'T EVEN GO ANYWHERE. THEY GO TO A FUCKING PATIO. I JUST -

storms across stage and off.

DON'T LAUGH AT ME. I HEAR YOUR MURMERING.

offstage.

I DON'T LIKE BEING THIS MAD. I'M CRYING. I FEEL LIGHT-HEADED. MY THROAT HURTS I AM SO CHOKED UP...

storms onstage with 3 other women trailing behind her. they sit down to a card game.

I CAN'T BELIEVE I JUST DID THAT.

2nd woman, sincerely.

WELL, NO ONE LIKES TO BE A LOSER.


-- A scene written by Christiane, direct quote of myself.

Sometimes I laughed so hard I cried, and if I started myself crying the tears were bound to flow. On more than one occasion did I find myself curled up in the floor transitioning between some insane cackle and sobs.

Another of my best times were conversations with Lois, the 83 year old woman whose house we cleaned:

Amanda: Are you trying to get high off the bleach fumes Lois?

Lois: Ha! Well, yes I am. It's been a long time since I've had this kind of fun. Reminds me of when I was young and used to raise Cain.


She and I continued our conversation for a very long time. She shared her wisdom and funny memories of younger years with her family.

Lois: You know, I was sitting here in this very kitchen when my daughter was young, feeding her at the table and there was a storm coming on. The lightning must have hit the house because a bolt of electricity jumped from the plug by the window over to the one behind the microwave. I saw it! (Whispering) I like to watch the clouds and listen to thunder. You know, my mother always said thunder is God scolding the bad people.

And lastly, Tom & Jane, the sweetest two people in all of Fond du Lac. They deserve their own entry.

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just wanted you to know that I have been thinking about you a lot lately and that I am still reading about all of your amazing adventures. You are wonderful. Love you lots! :)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Spinning Jacob Sheep's Wool

March Canning: Pickled Kale

Canning pickled cauliflower (aka, pickles of pain)