365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE – DAY 78: Why I Hid From The Priest


Let’s call him John. I want to tell you why I hid from Father John. He was the priest at the church my maternal grandmother belonged to. In my post two days ago I told you about Lucia and how she used to call me a pagan.

Father John officiated my parents’ wedding, my baptism, my sister Ioana’s baptisms and my brother Alex’s baptism; he officiated my wedding when I was 23 years old. So basically, he had been in my life from before I was born until I left Romania at the age of 28.

He was a good man said everyone around me, and I truly have no reason to believe otherwise. But for me he was a priest, representing the church  and if you read my post two days ago, you know how I felt about the church.

As it was customary in my neighborhood, in my city and in my country at the time, the priest would make house visits for Easter and Christmas to say a prayer for the family, to clear the energy of the house with frankincense and chants. People were happy to have him come by and gave him money for the church. My grandparents welcomed his visits and my parents were usually at work; Ioana , 3 years younger than me listened to my grandmother and Alex was not yet born. So that left me: I hated his visits and if I knew that he was coming, I would wait by the front gate to get the first glimpse of him and then I would hide. Most of the times, I hid so well that they could not find me on time for the visit with Father John; it infuriated my grandmother and I got punished afterwards because I was disrespectful; playing with my friends privileges were taken away for a week or so, but for me it was definitely worth it.

However, sometimes my hiding spot was discovered and I was brought in front of the priest to get his blessing and kiss the cross he was holding. Apparently it was important to do so. I did not buy it though and refused to have anything to do with it; and on top of it I would challenge Father John, chin held high and hands behind my back: “I do not want to kiss the cross. Did all the people on our street kiss it? Have you ever heard of hygiene? Have you disinfected it?”

Why I did that was clear to me at the time and it is clear to me now. I was given no good reason why I should kiss the cross. I did not believe in it and resented the fact that I had to do it just because an adult or two said that I should.

I cherish the memory of my defiance because I chose to think for myself, despite the consequences. I am grateful that something inside me made me stick to what I felt was right for me. Did it drive the adults in my life crazy? Oh, yes. Did I get punished. Yes. But looking back I am grateful because I chose to be me. And the memories are fun.

It is never too late to choose what is right for you, despite of what others are saying. And it feels good, trust me!


Rucsandra Continue reading

365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE – DAY 76: My Grandmother Called Me a Pagan

Me at age 6 or 7 : ‘I don’t want to go to church. Why should I? I’m not going.’RUCSANDRA's PICTURE

My grandmother: ‘Yes you are; you are coming with me.’

M: ‘Why? Give me a good reason why.’

G: ‘People go to church because they want to be good and do good.’

M: ‘Really? How about the hypocrites and the liars?’

G: ‘What? What are you talking about?’

Me: ‘I am talking about people who lie and cheat; and the men who go to church but then go home and beat their children and wives. I think the church is not doing a good job at teaching them anything. I don’t want to go to church. I’m not going.’

Grandma, raising her voice, arms up in the air: ‘You’re a pagan!’

Lucia, my maternal grandmother was religious, believed in God and wanted Ioana and me to accompany her to church, pray and get the weekly blessing; in other words, be like all the other kids going to church with their grandparents. My sister, 3 years younger than me, was happy to do so. Not me. I hated it all; the rituals, the frankincense and the smoke from the candles; drinking from the same cup as everybody else; the endless rhymes recited or chanted by the priests. The church going people, wearing mostly black and looking all virtuous, pious and subdued frightened me, especially because I knew some of them and they were abusive with their families. I saw no good reason why I should be at church, and as soon as my grandmother took her eyes off me, I seized the opportunity to run back home.

My reaction to religion and church was visceral. At that time I included God in the same bag, so I reacted, ready to start an argument whenever I was told to be a good girl because God could see me. To me, God was a character like Santa Claus: fictional like Santa, only mean and vengeful. The idea of God infuriated me and I fought with my grandmother over and over again. I rebelled against the rituals which seemed archaic and with no purpose. I had a fight to pick with God too. What I understood about God at the time made no sense to me. I did not like God at all: he was petty, got upset, punished people, was moody and unjust; and on top of everything he supposedly required me to go to church, which I did not like.

Today I am grateful that I was given the freedom to formulate my own opinions and that the heated discussions with my grandmother forced me to find arguments that held. I was allowed to think for myself, even though the communist school was working hard to do the opposite. Not wanting to go to church proved to be a wonderful thing.

I still don’t go to church, it is not something that I can connect with.

But with God… I do.


Rucsandra Continue reading