I have been going through a hard time since losing my mom and don’t know what I believe anymore. I’m not sure whether I believe in God or any of that stuff. I’m so lost. What do you believe in?
You’ll have to pardon me. I’m writing this from my sickbed. Currently, I am sidelined with COVID and my body feels as though it has recently been assaulted with the wrong side of a pool cue.
As far as my beliefs, for starters, I am now a big believer in washing one’s hands thoroughly.
Also, I believe in fried chicken. The kind made by every granny you’ve ever known. The kind fried in black iron skillets.
I believe it is powerful stuff. Which is probably why you see it at funeral receptions, baby showers, and church socials.
I also believe in hand-rolled biscuits made from flour, fat, salt, baking powder, and buttermilk. To add additional ingredients to this mix would be like drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
I believe in teaching young men to clean fish. I believe in kids who ask too many questions. And I believe in girls who are gutsy enough to be themselves.
I believe girls have it harder than boys. And I’m sorry for that.
I believe in giving money to the homeless—not once or twice, but every time I see someone down on their luck. Every single time. I believe in giving more than I should.
I believe in old-time country dances. Long ago, before TV’s, smartphones, and twenty-four-hour news channels, I believe people threw more parties.
I believe in bowing heads to say grace. I believe in crickets, loud frogs, and places where you cannot hear busy highways.
I believe in magic tricks. And in teenagers who haven’t found themselves yet. I believe in all golden retrievers, Labs, bloodhounds, some Jack Russels. And marriage.
I believe in Marie, Lorena, and Nadia—living at a battered women’s shelter in South Georgia. I believe in high-school dropouts, and kids who miss their daddies. I believe in nurses.
I believe in music made by hand, fiddles, upright pianos, and the poetry of Hank Williams. I believe in Willie Nelson.
I believe in the memory of grandparents, and keeping them alive with stories. I believe in making lowly people famous, and famous people lowly.
And I believe this world is better than most give it credit. I believe that if folks truly knew how much good there was, they would quit hurting each other.
There are kindhearted people. I have seen them. I have shaken their hands, hugged their necks. To find them, you have to know where to look, but they’re around.
They are the sort who attend funerals for those they barely knew. Who stand in maternity wards at newborns who are not theirs, making funny faces through the glass windows.
They are the kind who stop cars to help strangers change tires. They are big tippers, self-effacers, shower-singers, and casserole makers.
And I believe in them.
I believe in the old woman I once knew, who said: “If you REALLY wanna love someone, give’em something good to eat.”
Granny. I believe in the wisdom of all sweet women, weather-worn, wrinkled, solemn family protectors who know their ways around iron cookware. Who kiss cheeks with dry lips, who make the world sunny by dusting counters with flour.
I believe in the power of their sugar. In their fried chicken. In the oil of their love. And I believe they are about as close to God as you can get, here on earth.
And speaking of God, I wouldn’t worry too much about believing in him or not. Your belief doesn’t make him any more or less real. There might some people who don’t believe the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exists, but this doesn’t make it any more or less real. The good thing is, even if you don’t believe in God, you can bet the farm God believes in you.
Even so, my main belief is that our personal beliefs don’t amount to much in the grand scheme. It’s what we do that counts. That’s what I believe.
And now I believe I am going to go back to bed.