Running in the Background

Lots of times when I’m waiting for a page to load on my computer, I click into something else to work on.  Sometimes I get engrossed in my project and forget I was downloading something else until music starts!  That’s when I realize there was something else running in the background.  That’s somewhat how Catholicism finally got my attention.  What started as an inquiry that was dropped became of great interest later on.  Allow me to explain.

When we first moved to Rudyard we made friends with Duane and Melanie.  They were our age and having babies too, so it was nice to spend time with them.  However, Duane kept telling us we really needed to meet John and Chris who, although not evangelicals, seemed to have a lot in common with us.  Duane joked about them being more Catholic than the Pope, which we all considered a compliment to their faithfulness to their religion.  It was quite some time before we actually met them since we didn’t go to the same church, but at last Chris and I met and we hit it off immediately.

Nolan eventually met John when they worked together for a month in the summer one year and we found that Duane had been right; we were a good match to them.

Religion wasn’t a big topic between us, but it wasn’t avoided.  We learned some things about what they believed and they learned some about what we did.  Probably the one topic that had the biggest impact on us was when Chris told me the birth control pill caused abortions when it didn’t suppress ovulation.  Wow!  I’d never heard that before and started researching it.  I found she was right and we started looking for alternatives.  It made me sick to think of the babies I’d lost that I never knew I was carrying.  I have always been grateful for that conversation with Chris.

Nolan’s experience with talking religion happened when he met John and learned that John believed in eternal Hell.  When he reported that interesting bit of news to me, I was surprised.  “Really?!  I thought they had that Purgatory-thing?”  “Yeah,” Nolan replied, “and guess who gives him the most hassle about it?  Other Catholics!”  We were both amazed!  And both, obviously, ignorant of what Purgatory is!  (Yeah, all you Catholics can laugh now–we’re used to it! 🙂 )

There were little things here and there that we learned about their faith, but it really wasn’t a big part of our friendship.  We just really enjoyed each others’ company and had similar views on life in general.

Eventually, they decided to move.  John took a job teaching up in Alaska and we helped them pack.  It was really hard as we’d just really gotten to know them.  One of the funniest memories we have of that time was that it was Lent.  We’d never known much about it, but from them learned that Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent.  So, one day we’d been there helping them with the packing and in the hustle and bustle of the day, Chris warmed up stew for lunch.  John was just taking his first bite when Chris said, “Oh, no!  It’s Friday!”  John dropped his spoon as if it were poison!  They looked so discouraged and awkward because we were there and weren’t sure what to do.  Nolan said, “Pizza!  We can get cheese pizzas!”  With a look of relief they agreed that would be a great idea!  So, we ordered pizzas from the cafe and enjoyed a delicious Lenten lunch with them! 🙂  (Smile, Chris, it wasn’t that embarrassing!)

So, they moved to Alaska in the summer of 1997 and we kept up through e-mail and the rare phone call.  About that time is when my own spiritual journey really began and I never thought of Catholicism.  However, there were a couple comments between Chris and I when they came back to visit the next summer that stuck in my head.

Once, as we watched our small children play together, I made a joking comment about the possibility of any of our kids marrying someday.  Chris hesitated in such a way that I knew she was considering how to respond.  I looked at her and said, “If one of our kids dated one of yours, would they have to be Catholic to marry?”  With that same look of caution, she replied, “Um, yeah.”  I nodded and said something inane, I’m sure, but I admired the fact that their faith was so important to them that they didn’t want to see their children marry non-Catholics.

The other incident happened while we were doing dishes and talking some on religion.  I said I had recently come across the idea that there are those who think Mary never sinned.  I shook my head in wonderment at such ignorance.  Chris didn’t respond, but I could feel a hesitation in her that alerted me that I’d hit on something there.  I left it, but the impression stayed in my mind.  Running in the background, so to speak.