My mother was devoutly Catholic. She was also very superstitious.
Though putting shoes on a table isn’t particularly hygienic at the best of times (like if they’re new) for my mother, it was cause for panic. It was a harbinger of impending death.
Stir with a knife. Stir up strife.
Black cat on your path. Look out!
We used to tease her a lot about her superstitions. Here response was to pray for us with another Hail Mary.
And, though her faith was firmly embedded in Catholicism, her roots were grounded in the land of her birth and the Hinduism of Southern India.
In my parent’s home, the Crucifix along with statues of Mother Mary and Jesus Christ dominated. But there was always a place for Shiva and Brahma. And, because my father liked to stir things up, there was always a Buddha or two sitting on a shelf high above our heads. As a little girl, I loved to rub the Buddha’s belly. No matter how high the Buddha sat, I’d climb up on a chair or reach up on my tiptoes and rub away. My mother told me it would bring me good luck.
I still have a Buddha on a shelf in my kitchen along with a statue of Shiva and an elephant with its trunk upturned (its good luck). The crucifix my mother carried around the world with her since leaving India decades ago, sits on the mantel in my studio and yesterday, I carefully placed the figurines of Jesus and Mary that sat on her bedside throughout her life on the side table by the sofa. A tiny Laughing Buddha stands with them.
My parents taught my siblings and me to listen and see and feel and know and honour everyone. Not by the labels of society, but by their hearts. They taught us that there is room for everyone at the table no matter where they came from, where they were going, or what they brought to the table.
If Buddha and Christ could stand side by side on a counter, why couldn’t we sit side by side at a table?
Yesterday, after finishing rearranging and organizing my studio, I delved back into the altered book journal I’ve been creating in honour of my mother. “My Mother’s Prayers”.
It is not an accident that the left side of the page has a prayer card of Mother Mary. Just as it is not an accident that Brahma graces the right side of the page tucked beneath the purple flowers I painted in remembrance of my mother.
As my parents taught me; There is no ‘Us and Them’. We are not our faith, or colour of our skin or land of our birth. We are our hearts and there are no accidents in the human heart. There is only Love.