This is a picture of my younger sister, Cassie, and I at our First Communion at the Easter Vigil. I am 13 years old, well past the usual age for having your First Communion.
What you can’t see:
Up until that point I was raised in the Methodist church, though I use the term “raised” here very loosely. We went to church off and on and I participated in the children’s choir, but faith was never a prominent part of my daily life. To this day, I can’t tell you what makes the Methodist church unique from any other form of Christianity.
When my parents got divorced, my Mom chose to go back to the Catholic church and to bring my sister and I with her. I am so grateful for her choice. I know it must have been hard on her to return after so many years of being away. The Church was just what we all needed in our lives. I also went to a Pentecostal church every other weekend with my Dad. You’d think the drastic differences between these two forms of Christianity would have left me confused, but each church spiritually nourished me in different ways. At the Catholic church, I found stability, tradition, and structure. The Pentecostal church introduced me to a more personal type of faith and relationship with God.
Cassie and I started taking classes every week after school to become Catholic and have our First Communion once we decided we were ready. It was just us and one teacher in the class because we were too old for the traditional 2nd grade class. Our teacher was very patient and kind. She taught us more information than I could possibly remember at that age, but I did learn a lot. I remember she drove a very fancy Jaguar, which oddly enough made me associate Catholicism with wealth until I got a little older.
In this picture, we are wearing dresses handmade by Thelma, who would eventually become our Step Grandmother. The dresses were matching, except the flowers on my dress were blue and the ones on Cassie’s dress were pink. I still have those cute white sandals I am wearing in the photo, and I wear them all the time in the summer. 13 years for a pair of sandals, not bad!
I did not fully appreciate the time and effort (not to mention love) that Thelma put into making this dress at the time, though I was excited to wear it. I don’t think I fully grasped the seriousness of having my First Communion either.
How this picture makes me feel:
Remorseful, happy, and contemplative. Remorseful because this is an example of a chance that I missed to really connect with Thelma. She has since passed away of Leukemia, and not a week goes by that I don’t wish I could go back and spend more time with her. She reached out to me in so many ways. I reached back the best way I knew how, but being older and more mature now I’m realizing how much we really had in common and what a strong woman she was. I look forward to seeing her face in Heaven!!
This photo makes me happy because I’m Catholic! Even if the road leading up to it was bumpy and windy, my faith is now one of the most important aspects of my life. Because of my early exposure to 3 very different forms of Christianity, I’m that much more certain that Catholicism is right for me today.
I feel contemplative because it makes me wonder if children should be older when they have their First Communion. At 13, I don’t think I was equipped to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I can’t imagine a child “getting it” in 2nd grade. There is something to be said for the innocence of children though, how they more easily accept information about God as fact rather than question everything to death like adults.
*Title of the post is a line from “In Color” by Jamey Johnson. Buy it here!