Preamble: Today is the Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Perhaps because of a conference, “Ecclesia in America” taking place in Rome and it ending today there is more chatter about it than usual (though it’s eclipsed by the Pope beginning to tweet, which is itself overwhelmed by the noise over 12/12/12). Doesn’t matter, it would be on my calendar anyway, as it has been my whole life.

As Marian devotion has received more attention there has been a lot of disapproval, many calling it idolatry and replacing the word “devotion” with the word “worship.” And that’s how I learned not everyone practices the same way, even when they profess the same faith. At home we’ve prayed the rosary every night except in very strange and usually stressful situations. Marian devotion is profound in the Mexican Catholic tradition, and in particular devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe has been strong enough to lead a war for independence and later a revolution. So deeply ingrained is that specific image of the Holy Mother that when Pope John Paul II visited Mexico he greeted them as “Guadalupanos,” a moniker that some of us still carry out in the greater world because it transcends geography and society.

Marian devotion, in my world, over and within my lifetime has blurred in definition with the shape and scope of pagan traditions, particularly of a general goddess worship. And my sense for the doctrines of the Church has led me to a syncretic position with the Buddhist path.

I can’t tell you how difficult it is to write this out because because I just find it hard to write about spirituality and religion in general. I don’t have a straightforward view and have a tendency to resist developing one. Furthermore, I must admit I feel cowed by prevailing notions of what belief should be. No matter what, straightforward is encouraged so you can carry around one label and not be confusing. I should pick a side, so to speak.

But I don’t think relying on reason excludes my need for God, I don’t think prayers of supplication or intercession foil willworking (though my will is weakest since I use it least), I don’t think magic takes the place of hewing to the 8-fold path, nor does adjusting my approach to the desires in life affect the basic chemistry when it comes to cooking. It’s all horribly relativistic, I know, a disaster of moods and varying ways of talking to something that only talks back by circumstance.

This isn’t the entry I meant to write. I imagine that’s not particularly shocking. For some reason it’s easier to delineate by negatives.

But what do I believe in and how has it made me into me? ah… well. I believe in her brown skin. And I believe in toasting cheese on bread. I believe in the stars of 500 years ago and I believe in evolution. I believe in feeding the hungry and protecting the weak. I believe in going to see the doctor regularly and I believe a community of faith is good for me. I believe that being pushy about faith has hurt a lot of people and that hurt has come back around and hurt me. I believe in wearing a scarf when it’s chilly. I believe I prefer turkey chili to beef and New England clam chowder to New York (though I’ll add cheese to both). I believe I should be gentle with others even when they haven’t been so with me. I believe in magic and put my faith in science. Um… and a bunch other things. I think God is reading this as I write, including the stuff I’ve deleted. And I believe He knows the words in my heart that I don’t want to admit to just yet.

*shrug* I believe in grace.

There’s so much more I could say on the matter, but it would take another lifetime to adequately express it all. I think I’ll leave this hash of a blog post the way it is.