I have transferred all the Christmas stories I've written to the new notebook. Last evening I began doing the editing and proofing needed to prepare the stories for inclusion in the volumes I'm planning to self-publish soon. I completed work on five stories last night by twelve-thirty. Among those stories were the very first ones I wrote back in the late 1990's when my mother was still alive.
It still stings, because I let her read some of my stories and the impression I'd gotten was that she had not been very impressed by them. Maybe it was because she was so very sick with the nearness of her own passing approaching. I don't know, but reading these stories reminds me that I had felt disappointed and unhappy because she had never acknowledged me as a writer which had always been the deepest dream in my heart and soul. I felt she had dismissed my dream with a reckless, careless flick of her wrist and that hurt still resonates inside of me to this day.
I am currently doing the editing and proofing of The Window. This inspirational story contains some of the most powerful writing I have ever done. I am not a traditionally religious person. I was baptized in the Catholic church and attended until I was about five years old. My mother then broke with the Church after she suffered her tenth miscarriage, and it nearly killed her. The priest had come to her room and forbidden her to have a hysterectomy. He'd told her that she was on earth to produce children, that was her job. By then she had three living children- my sister, myself and my brother. My mother, a registered nurse, told the priest she had three children at home who needed their mother. That was her job, raising her surviving children. He disagreed. She told him to leave and not come back, and we stopped going to the Immaculate Conception church. In the mid-60's, Mom's grandmother moved in with us. She went to the French church, Notre Dame. A few years after Meme's death, Mom decided to try the Episcopal Church, so we all went there. It was nice, we went to church school and joined the Young People's Fellowship group. But then, Mom grew annoyed with the minister's habit of just dropping by the house for visits. She was working full time days. Dad worked full time second shift at Hamilton Standard. The house was clean, but lived in by two adults and three children. There was the additional strain on my parents of my sister's cerebral vascular accident at age eleven. It had changed her personality, and her recovery and rehabilitation had been lengthy and grueling, stressful for all of us. Luckily she had survived and she relearned everything she had forgotten from being able to feed and care for herself, to all her schooling. She only had to repeat one grade after being tutored over the summer. It took its toil on us. Anyway, Mom didn't like drop-in unannounced visitors, so, we left the church. Shortly afterwards, we moved to Westfield, and never joined another church.
In the course of my life, I married a Catholic man after taking lessons with friars in Springfield. When Kelly was born, she was baptized in the Catholic Church. I would not have minded if John had raised her Catholic, but he didn't. He still gets up early on Sunday morning to go to church and visit his parents. I don't mind, except he has missed Easter mornings with his daughter and that always made me angry, that he couldn't spend holiday time with his daughter, that his family didn't come first. He could have taken her to church then come home for her traditional Easter basket hunt, but he never did. he missed out and she missed out on having a father who cared enough to be with her on Easter morning.
Anyway- that's all water underneath the bridge. I, meanwhile, explored various other religions. I let the Jehovah's Witnesses in and listened to them and went to a few local meetings but found them inflexible and narrow-minded. I visited the Baptist Church, a Pentecostal Church and went with my neighbor to her Born Again Christian Church. For about a year or two I went to her Church, and Kelly attended with me. She was baptized a Born Again Christian there, and so was I. But we stopped going to church because in every church I explored I was hearing the same disturbing message- that they were God's chosen people and I should disassociate myself with my family and friends because they did not share the same faith and were therefore going to be left behind in the final days. That is not my idea of religion. I feel we are all God's creations and He loves us all. We are all flawed but our responsibility is to live peacefully with one another in his Kingdom on Earth so that we can live with Him in Heaven at the end of our days here. I don't think any Church should tell its congregation that they are God's chosen people- that is arrogant and discriminatory and rather self-righteous! None of us are better than any other living soul on this earth, yet that was what I was hearing in every different church I attended. My religion is now private and personal, practiced.in my home and outdoors beneath the beautiful blue dome of the sky that encompasses us all. I treat everyone the same way- I do not shun them because they do not share my faith, my beliefs.
Jumping off my religious soap box here, I will get back to the point of this post- the story The Window has a pretty powerful effect on me. I have been sitting here crying as I've been editing and proofing this story with the shattered man sitting in the burnt out and blackened ruins of a great cathedral after the loss of his wife and infant son and the haunting religious experience he has while there that alters the course of his life while renewing his faith. The power of the written word is awesome, and I wish my mother had lived long enough to read this story, and every other story I have written since as I have practiced and strived toward perfection in my craft as a writer. I can see how I have progressed from these early stories to the most recent ones. I have grown, but even back then, the pen I wielded had the power to evoke strong emotions from the reader. This story is my friend Maryann's favorite one. She s devoutly Catholic. I love her as much as I love my friend who never goes to church. That I can get the same response to this story from both of them means I have done my job.
The spoken word can slash a heart and wound a soul, but the written word is indelible and can inflict more lasting damage. I try never to hurt anyone with written words- I try to inspire and bring happiness, to provoke thought.
So, let me dry my eyes- and then I'll get back to my work doing just that.