Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Religion and my Nana

This is a card I made for my Nana. The picture is awful because it is nighttime and if I wait at all to send a letter it will never happen.

Those are a pair of blue and dark gray blue jay feathers. My Nana loves nature and she always has baskets of pinecones and individual pressed or dried leaves, photos of the flowers she grows and finds, turkey feathers, seed pods. Anyway, when I found a right and a left blue jay feather I immediately thought I would send them to her in a card. I got out copper finish paper to make a cog to fit between the wings but I realized that wouldn't mean anything to her (just to me and my dad, actually, it's a steampunk take on his artcar fest flying tire bumper sticker) so I did a bird.

I pick colors intuitively, like most do people I suppose, and when I was done it looked exactly like a bird Virgin Mary. You can't see it but the gold wash goes outside the ink line of the head exactly like a halo. My Nana is very Catholic, and I used to be very Catholic until a couple years ago, when I was agnostic for a few months and then atheist.

It was a gentle but unnerving deconversion. I had to figure out new things to do when I was scared or hopeful. I had to completely shift my expectation for my life trajectory, since now I'll be mortal. For months and months I felt freer and strangely light, but now I'm used to that. And I spent a long time trying to construct ethics based on this and that and reading and thinking, but you can't construct new ethics from scratch and have them stick so I kept my old ones for the most part and use reason and my heart to work things out as new things come up.

Loads of atheists like to argue with theists, but the truth is right there for anyone to see so I never bring it up except very casually. It's not a secret that I'm atheist except it is kind of a secret from my Nana. I didn't plan on that but it felt like the most natural thing in the world to get into my nice clothes and do the 30 mile drive to church with her on a clear Sunday morning, listen to the irishman, kneel, sing (I can sing in church now that no one is watching, which made me cry when I realized), and then I went up and got and ate a communion wafer, which is only for Catholics. It's hard to explain how much it is only for Catholics, it is kind of like using a disability placard if you are able bodied.

The rest of the family knows or is allowed to know, but I don't want her to worry about me. I want her to go to heaven to be with my Papa and Jesus forever. I don't want her to consider that one of her 13 grandkids isn't planning to go to heaven. I think she has a rich life but heaven is a big deal, I don't want to mar her anticipation. She is very strong in her faith and I don't think I could shake it but I don't want to chance it; reality is so compelling.

So my subconscious took allllllll that and made a Virgin Mary Bird.

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