The three great mysteries: air to a bird; water to a fish; mankind to himself.
Mom and Dad had it all worked out, who they were, what their roles were, all with the help of their Bible verses.
Mom's grandmother was Quaker, the religion of the "friendly persuasion" kind. Quakerism began as the opposite of dictum and dogma.
Quakers relied on an inner light. Preachers did not sermonize in meeting houses. A pulpit was unnecessary. All were silent until the Spirit moved someone, then that person spoke out, testifying.
The paternal side of my equation was more inclined toward a hell-fire and brimstone sermonizing approach. Mother's Papa was a pastor quite adamant regarding right and wrong.
Mama had a very gentle disciplinary approach. Daddy, not so much. Both earnestly relied on the teachings of Sunday School to fill in the blanks. We were made to sit through sermons as well.
It wasn't until I entered public school I realized my parents were very different from other parents attending other churches.
Other parents sent their children to Sunday School too, but they didn't forbid their going to movies, dances, and associating with those who drank wine, smoked cigarettes, or played cards.
Another difference was the periodic revival meetings our church staged. Converting sinners to saints seemed the purpose.
It was at one of these revivals, around age eight, I felt unusually shamed. I'd listened to the preacher tell how sinful and black the heart of the "unsaved by grace" person was.
At home that night, Mom and I said our usual bedtime prayer together. She asked me if I had a special prayer request. "I want a clean heart," I told her. We prayed. I drifted off to dreamland.
The next morning was an entirely new day for me. Perhaps Mom nudged me into assessing how I felt, but even in my eight year-old heart I knew something was really different.
Outside, at play by myself, I noted a new brightness, a new lightness of being. The grass seemed greener than I'd ever seen. I studied the tiny insects with wonder. I thrilled at the birds singing in the distance, as though they were acknowledging me.
It would be years before I realized in that moment I'd felt what clean of heart was.
That nugget of awareness, that knowing of a bigger self, of autonomy, of expanse, saved my soul hundreds of times throughout the ensuing decades. It saved me when I remembered to return to that anchor in my heart.
I'd claimed a unique comprehension of a difference between religion and spirituality. I had jumped ahead on my own and was connected to magnanimous love.
Knock on the sky and listen to the sound.
A student of life, eternally