I walked into the church, noticing immediately the crowds, the dispersion, the families with the toddlers and their strollers. I want to be inconspicuous so I sit, inconspicuously, in the middle. In the middle I blend in and I don’t invite stares because my head is down, iPhone off, hands folded.

I remember how to do this because I’ve been here a thousand times before. The knee rest comes down and with it my joints hit the padding, not immune from the painful wood that lies beneath. I bow my head to say a prayer; I recite the ones I know, the morning prayers from Catholic school. The Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

The Mass begins and for me it is a time warp, a reversion to the child I Once Was. Reverent, wicked, funny. Sometimes we’d laugh in the pews, shoulders shaking in desperate silence. Everything was funnier when we were shushed, one finger to teacher’s lips.

The priest takes to the pulpit for the first reading and I take it in. The smell of incense, the families huddled together in silent prayer. The Bible passage that I can remember so clearly, the Septembers when the light would hit the stained glass in its morning gaze and I would close my eyes and listen. I watch the families now. They each pray separately and I hope that their wishes are one and the same; that their prayers are for each other.

As a child, I always believed. I believed that if I asked God to spare my family pain, he would. I believed that Santa Claus would bring me a bike and the Easter Bunny, the marshmallow eggs I ate with admirable ferocity. Mostly I prayed that God would make me good, show kindness to my family, keep his distance but show his love too. Occasionally I’d get sick enough to pray for myself, for a reprieve. I like to believe that I received it. That I was immediately relieved.

A miracle was created here, every Sunday. Every Sunday we were given something to believe in, cling to. And I don’t regret it for a second. It taught me to see outside of myself, to have faith in the things I could not see.

But things didn’t get easier, they only got harder and I floated more and more away from the child I once was, the cross I once wore.

I don’t need it. This is what I told everyone. It was easier not to believe than to believe because I am tough and that is the story I told. I don’t need religion, I said. To save me, cure me. To make this journey easier.

But I’ve found that for me, there is no absolutes and so there is part of me that wants to to go back, back to those musty pews and incense candles, to the thrill in the boom of the priest’s voice and the unique feel of holy water, caught on my cheek.

Back to when belief wasn’t a dirty word and our objections were met with answers that I could cling to.

Back to a time when I didn’t know I lived in a land of make-believe.


  1. Interesting take on religion, Kelly. I never took you for one to reflect on religion, but it seems you have some interesting ideas aside from making us all laugh.

  2. I think this is some of your best writing to date. Really struck a chord? nerve? whatever. I give it a 9.5.

  3. This really resonated with me. Well done.

  4. This is a new direction for you.

  5. from a former SLG'er', this makes so much sense. but I don't agree with some of it. either way, good job.

  6. wow. this is a great peice

  7. this is really well done, kelly. a nice change from your usual wit, but incredibly insightful and well-thought out. really nice. =)

  8. Wow! Your funny pieces are hysterical and your serious pieces are so touching. Nicely done.

    --from a fan in the midwest :)

  9. simply amazing kel, simply amazing.

  10. Thanks everyone.

    Religion is deeply personal, so I wouldn't expect anyone/everyone to agree but I love the insights and the comments.

    I'm not going to pretend to be curious as to who the anonymous people are, and I'm not going to "beg" you to reveal yourself, but um, you know, if you feel like it...

  11. Saw this on Twitter...throwback post. Great writing