We were introduced to many different factions of Christianity. We attended a variety of churches and chapels. We saw Godspell, a lot.
We were raised in a house with zero tolerance for bigotry.
We were taught to stand up for the underdog, to give what we could, to live with compassion, and to be feminists.
THE guiding factor in all of this? LOVE. It was and is the Buckley family religion.
I have rarely participated in organized religion once I was able to make my own decisions. I made my communion at home. I don't recall ever going to confession. I wasn't confirmed. I had a marriage annulled. I was married in the church, my kids are baptized and have made all their sacraments. Their dad handled that. The minute they were confirmed they never wanted to step foot into the Catholic church again.
Last March my mom's best friend, Helen, died after a battle with cancer. Her funeral service was held at the Unitarian church she attended. Besides my father's funeral, which frankly, was epic, despite being held in a Catholic church, it was THE best funeral service I have ever been to. It was a celebration of Helen. It was a toast to the life of a woman who lived 82 years, raised 8 kids and loved to write novella's to various editors of newspapers. She was particularly fond of the NY Times.
My mom misses Helen deeply. I perhaps should have noticed the passing of time with a phone call; but I don't ever remember death days. (Again, with the exception of my father who we buried on his 60th birthday.)
These two women were a force to be reckoned with. Helen taught religion at Holy Trinity High School; the irony of this is not lost on me. My parents taught values education out of our house. Our families were interconnected and spent days on end together as well as vacations and holidays. There was always music. Although we don't see each other with the frequency we did in our early teens, I can tell you that it is as if no time at all has passed when we get together.
Two single women, raising 12 kids between them. Having teens of my own now, I can't fathom how they did it. But they did. And really, the kids ARE alright. As an aside, the youngest kid is 41.
Their teaching to us remains firmly implanted in all of us. Love one another, even when it's hard. Be kind. Give what you can. Have faith. Laugh, a lot. White wine makes things better. (I had to...) Sing. Dance. Rejoice in the day. Be the best you you can be.
In honor of both my Mama and Helen (I don't know quite how this post turned out this way, but I like it) I am posting the video I received this morning on my FB wall from my friend Lisa.
It is the perfect Sunday sermon.