A little over nine months after my conception, I made my entrance into the world. And what an odd place I found it too. Because despite my unplanned arrival, I knew that I was special to God. And yet my relationship with God wasn’t as straight forward as I would have hoped. Indeed I spent a lot of time trying to find out what it meant. And I found the whole process totally confusing.
There were two Christian churches in the area where I lived. A modern one on the top of the hill, and an old historic one a little further away (in the opposite direction) in a valley. And much of my time was spent at the latter. The problem was that the church hall was also used by other groups, and I found that I got terribly confused between what were church activities and what were not.
Now I know that I attended Sunday School. I also know that my mother was involved in some sort of Red Cross meetings. But in my early days I found it hard to distinguish between the two. Yes, the meetings may have been at different times and the programmes very different, but they were in the same hall, and to my small undeveloped mind I couldn’t separate the two.
Of course I was very young, and I am probably doing my mother a great injustice, but added to the confusion was the idea that my mother was sometimes keen on certain activities, and sometimes she wasn’t. Indeed I cannot recall my mother sticking very long to any of them at all.
As a consequence, I have memories of being at Sunday School some of the time. I also remember being at other programmes. But a lot of the time it seems to me, that because of my age, I was simply where my mother had chosen to be.
So with no real commitment to anything, my early childhood swung from Sunday School in the old church, to other activities, to perhaps nothing at all. Much of the time was in the old church, and some of it (i.e. Jucos) was in the new church.
It’s not really surprising then, that after the fire closed the old church down, and I had gone through the obligatory Confirmation, I gave the church away. Why? Because I had no real belief in anything the church had to offer at all.
Now I may have had a sense of the existence of God, but the one place I hadn’t found him was in the church. Which was surprising really, because even about the age of eight I swallowed a marble, which got stuck in my throat. I nearly died, but even then I was aware of God’s presence. Which is probably why, despite everything, I continued my search for God.
In my high school we had minister who taught us religious knowledge. But all I can remember is his fiery temper and his love for teaching memory verses. I also remember joining the youth group at the vicarage—but my recollection of that is little more than that of a social group.
So when two Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked at the door, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. My parents were out, and so felt free to talk. I even bought one of their publications. Unfortunately when the Witnesses returned my whole family was at home, and I didn’t want to let on what had happened. So that put an end to that search.
In time, though, my father got involved in a youth group at the old church. But the group had no religious content whatsoever.
Now why he got involved is still a mystery to me. After all, he wasn’t particularly good around children. And I have only a memory of him being in church on two occasions. Indeed Freemasonry was his religion. So at the time, what he was doing seemed like a contradiction in terms.
Again I probably only went because I was still considered too young to be left on my own. And it certainly didn’t help me on my search to find God at all. Indeed all it did was to give someone an opportunity to attack me—someone who had decided that they really didn’t like me at all.
To be continued …
Posted: 25th June 2016
© 2016, Brian A Curtis