My daughter has been dating a young man who is Italian. In the last year she’s been learning about the importance of culture and religion in people’s lives. I was brought up Catholic. Religion was an important part of my life. My parents were devout and practicing Catholics and sent us (my siblings and I) to the convent for our schooling. Until I met my husband who was Protestant I truly believed that everyone had the same kind of religious upbringing that I had. Religion has always been crucial in my life and at the bottom of lots of my life choices. It’s only after literally scrutinizing the details of my life through my early 20’s that I discovered that there was more than Religion for me, there was Spirit. When we had children my husband and I decided that we wouldn’t push any kind of Religion on them. We would educate them about Religion and would encourage a certain Spirituality but we wouldn’t choose for them any kind of religious path. We believed that the less indoctrination they had the more prepared they would be for their own journey.
CT, my son, was called to explore Buddhism even before he was born. My husband and I often went to a Chinese restaurant in Montreal where the owner was Buddhist. When I got pregnant, I craved Chinese food. One day the owner approached us and told us in broken English that the boy that I was carrying was a long time Buddhist. I smiled and tried to be polite; but neither my husband and I believed in reincarnation then. We also couldn’t quite understand how it was possible that we could be giving birth to someone who was so unlike us. I remember walked away that day somewhat embarrassed. The elder Chinese man must have noticed my husband and I were upset because he approached us with an humble apology. He also explained to us that in his world it was quite amazing if you could see the destiny of a child by the aura of the memories he or she carried before or at birth. It was supposedly unusual to see it so clearly and so strongly as the way he saw our child’s aura in his mind’s eye.
“Your son,” he said, “is a friend. He will be soft, peaceful and loved by many. He will live the word of Buddha from the moment he comes into this world.”
We left that day mystified by the man’s comments and open to explore whatever they brought to our life. We weren’t surprised when CT’s favourite toy as a toddler ended up being a Buddha statue. In first grade he learnt about Buddhism and took interest in it. By high school he was quite knowledgeable on the topic and was committed to learn more. Buddhism was something that spoke to him and in many ways shaped him into the man he is today. Like the Chinese man in the Restaurant said: “CT grew up to be soft, peaceful and definitely loved by many.”
What was interesting was how CT liked anything and everything that connected to Spirituality and Religion. Him and I had similar perspectives on life. My daughter on the other hand didn’t like Religion at all. She found it boring. On the other hand she liked traditionalism and anything that was related to medicinal plants, ritual, ceremony etc… In elementary school KT picked up an article on a Mohawk woman who grew a garden of medicinal plants and was initiated by her grand-mother. KT wrote to the woman and eventually became her pen pal for a few years. They spoke about tradition and spirituality. I found it incredible the way the Universe called to CT and KT without any need of a previous or formal religious or spiritual education. All it took for my husband and I is to surrender.
Being of mixed background, my husband and I did the same thing when it came to culture. When you are a mix of French, English, Italian, Irish and First Nation lineage – it’s hard to decide which culture should be dominant in your life. Devoting to a particular culture may give access to community but at the same time it means accepting and devoting to the ways of this particular culture. I know that I often felt lonely in my life because I didn’t feel any kind of ties to any culture or cultural community. At the same time later on in life I started to understand the genius behind my incarnation choices and felt proud of every part of me. I ended up teaching my kids how to be proud of their mix heritage and how to connect to every culture out there. I’ll be honest though we did follow the Universe and where it took us and eventually the First Nation culture and traditions end up dominating in our family life.
What impresses me these days is how we managed to let LIFE bring us to where we needed to be. Rather than following rules, we followed our heart. I think there’s beauty in everything and it’s fantastic to be open to see it. Why let religious and cultural perspectives get in the way of mystery and learning about the unknown? My daughter said to my husband and I last week that she was proud to have been brought up in the way that she was brought up. She said: “I’m different and I can be a bit strange; but I’m open to experience, all kinds of people, and I’m always ready to hear their story. I like the fact that I don’t let myself judge because of religion and culture. I like the fact that I have the freedom to see ME rather than what you made me to be…”
I don’t have to say that her statement touched me and that I’m still sitting with it. It has brought up lots of memories and lots of emotions, thoughts, and welcomed sighs.