Jesus Has Left the Building

The aftermath of Christ's evacuation

I watch my father, who is sitting a few seats down from me. He's wearing a yarmulke on top of his curly sparse hair. He sits there motionless and emotionless. I wonder what he must be thinking. Is he angry? Is he hurt? Does he feel as betrayed as I do? How did this happen? We've all known of Mom's interest in other religions and cultures, her voracious reading on subjects she wanted to learn about. I figured her interest in Judaism was no different than the others. But soon she began to attend services at a synagogue, then an instant friendship with the rabbi developed. Next thing I know, she lays the bomb on us. None of us have said anything to her or have asked her why. Why not? I don't know. Probably because we've never been allowed to question anything she's done. She's a headstrong independent woman who's done whatever she's wanted; meanwhile, for the majority of our lives, we've had no choice but to live according to her beliefs.

This is what makes me angry: having been led to believe, demanded to believe, in a particular faith, but then one day after years and years of teaching, she dismisses this conviction, as if it never existed. She could have converted to Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology, or a New Age religion, and I'd still be left wondering what happened to those strong Catholic doctrines of hers that she required I accept and share.

She's walking to the altar. She steps up to the podium and begins to speak Hebrew softly into the microphone. She finishes her reading, smiles, and looks over at us. I've never seen her this radiant. She's elated with happiness and pride. I can't deny her that, nor do I want to. She has found peace. She has found solace. Who doesn't want that? Sorrow sieges me and I cry. I realize now that maybe I shouldn't have been so worried about whether or not Jesus was a permanent part of my life, because as of this moment, he's vacated the premises of my mother's heart, no longer existing in the soul of someone I thought had all the answers.

Julia L Ramirez is associate editor of Minnesota Parent.

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