The final poem this month from ‘Dancing in the Rain’

Chapel was compulsory
in our household,
unless you were almost dead
which was how I often felt
after Saturday night at the
youth  club,
or to be more precise
The Red Lion pub.

“If you don’t come then
you’ll peel all the vegetables
for dinner”

And God didn’t approve of jeans either
unless you were catholic
then he didn’t mind one way or the other.
But we were Methodist to the core,
a weekly dose of pleated obedience –
below the knee.

Arrows of hell fire and damnation
fired from the pulpit
aimed solely at me
because I was the one who
didn’t want to be there
and God knew it.
I was marked down in his
book of badness every week

But even if God hated me
attendance was rewarded;
one more reprieve
from the ever increasing
slipperiness of
the slope I was now on
heading swiftly toward
parental shaking of heads
and the shameful label of
“bitter disappointment”
which was  the last thing
in the world
I would ever want to be
because that would mean
I had failed


44 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Polly
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 11:18:55

    heh-heh…so identify with this — splendid 🙂


  2. elaine patricia
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 11:37:53

    I know exactly how you felt, Christine.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 22, 2015 @ 12:01:31

      Thank you elaine. As I said to Polly, my parents were ok really, I had lots of love but this was a weekly torture for me. I guess they knew no other way, having been brought up with it all in the same themselves. But they did mellow very much with age. In fact, they seemed to become younger at heart the older they got if that makes sense. 😊


  3. glendadoodle
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 12:14:50

    I love the humour in this poem, and some of the phrases are delicious – pleated obedience is a winner and you are saying exactly what you mean – gorgeous! 🙂


  4. Cynthia Jobin
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 15:07:56

    We must have been on the same wave length this week with our re-posting of poems about religious up-bringing. There really are some wonderful images and phrasings in this poem, Chris, which I’ve read several times before. Like Glenda, I’m especially fond of “pleated obedience”. (How I hated pleated skirts!)
    I think we agreed before, that staying home and peeling the vegetables really was a good option, in the end….and playing music, really LOUD, while doing it! 🙂


    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 22, 2015 @ 16:50:07

      Yes Cynthia, we are on the same wave length! And definitely the loud music, preferably blaring out so loud that the neighbours would have wished they’d gone to church! 😊 xx


  5. Kit
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 15:12:53

    The Face of God

    I sang in the Presbyterian and Episcopalian choirs,
    worked in the Quaker meeting house,
    attended Christmas mass at midnight with Remia.

    Always, I listened for the inconsistencies.
    Be careful of religion, my parents had warned.
    It has killed so many people over the years.

    Yet, I loved to be uplifted in the praise and glories,
    loved letting go and just being a cog in the machine,
    one more soul seeking love and acceptance.

    Now, I still long for the release that never stayed long,
    to fall back into the downy quilt of faith.
    Evasive, it slides away.

    When faith beckons, I see cousins lost in the Holocaust,
    or ancestors who left England to worship here safely.
    I reach out to touch the face of God to find only empty space,
    an echoing whisper just beyond my ears.

    Kit Minden ©2015


    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 22, 2015 @ 16:57:09

      I love your poem Kit, beautifully honest with all the doubts and fears that come to us as human beings. I can relate so much to your words and I love the phrase ‘to fall back into the downy quilt of faith’ and also ‘an echoing whisper just beyond my ears’, beautiful lines. A gorgeous poem. Thank you for sharing here again, it’s much appreciated. Take care and I hope the MonSter is behaving itself for you ❤️


  6. Kit
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 15:13:36

    oops- that’s Renia, a high school friend


  7. lscotthoughts
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 15:29:25

    Wonderful poem, Chris, and I love the “jeans” line, which reminds me of how casual our church is here. But when I was young we always dressed up and my sisters and Dad do now to this day at their church. I don’t know how they would get along with us wearing jeans or tennies to our church. 🙂 Although we’re kind of phasing out of going these days but not because of our faith. We need that to move forward in some ways as you know. I also love “a weekly dose of pleated obedience” – brilliant! ♥ xo


    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 22, 2015 @ 17:01:40

      Thank you very much Lauren. We all find our own way to god in one way or another don’t we. And the good thing is that nobody is right or wrong. God, for me, is a very personal relationship. And I totally agree, we do definitely need faith to enable us to move forward; I think we are both very much aware of this ❤️ Xxx


  8. jeanette taylor ford
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 15:46:06

    I loved the same lines as the others. I hated pleated skirts too; fortunately, I only had to wear them at school, mum never made me wear any to at home or church. I note, with interest that, although you hated church and didn’t want to be there, you don’t actually say that you don’t believe in God – rather that he knew you didn’t want to be there. So many people feel that way about church; the ‘organised religion’ thing and yet they are able to see God in the simple but beautiful things in life, like that of a beautiful flower or the love of a faithful hound. All of which says to me that God understands about ‘church’ but loves us all the same. Sorry if I have come across ‘preachy’, Chris, I don’t mean to; it’s just that I know he understands us and how we feel. The ‘hell and damnation’ and ‘you must go to church or else’ side of things comes through from humans’ interpretation of what they think God thinks, whereas he doesn’t think that way at all; we are not ‘in his bad books’. We find god in our own, individual ways. Delete this if you want to xxx


    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 22, 2015 @ 16:41:39

      It’s fine Jeanette. I understand what you are saying here. I think we all find our own concept of god at some point in our lives and I developed a ‘god” of my own understanding when I entered the rooms of AA many years ago but I don’t put a ‘he’ or ‘she’ to it. That doesn’t work for me. But I am very content with my understanding even though I don’t always understand it. That may sound double Dutch but I know what I mean and that’s all that matters really. 😊

      Plus, there is actually a little exaggeration in my poem; its not totally factual, it’s partly about me and partly about others I knew at the time 😊

      As I said to the others above, my parents mellowed very much as they got older and always gave me more love than I could have wished for. I miss them both very much. xxx


  9. Léa
    Aug 22, 2015 @ 19:08:39

    Oh Christine, I love this more each time I read it! Despite being a ‘composite of your own experiences and those gleaned from others, it is seamless. Brilliant! 🙂 xxx


  10. tikarmavodicka
    Aug 23, 2015 @ 00:39:19

    A really great poem Christine.
    I could relate to it as an adult. I loved church as a child. Anywhere was better than home.
    My parents weren’t strict about religion. My father was convinced he’d burst into flames if he stepped inside a church and my mother was happy for us to make up our own minds. There’s nothing like a group of nuns though (I attended a Catholic school and was raIsed Catholic) to put the fear of God into you.
    These days I’d rather being peeling vegetables. 😊
    Thanks for sharing such a beautifully phrased window into your experiences with faith.
    And love


    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 23, 2015 @ 09:42:22

      Thank you very much Tikarma. I would rather peel vegetables too these days; I can get my ‘church’ moments doing simple tasks such as this. But I do understand how some people rely on the community side of church involvement. We are all different. What I find reassuring these days is that Im aware and comfortable with the fact that there is no right or wrong. It’s all a very personal thing. And my poem was really quite a flippant looking back to my teenage years. I have changed greatly since then! In lots of ways!😄

      Love and (((hugs)))


  11. Norma (Through My Eyes)
    Aug 23, 2015 @ 03:20:30

    Great poem Christine and I too can identify although we never wore jeans to church. Now church goers everywhere are very casual and wear anything. I shake my head sometimes but I guess it’s a good thing that they have relaxed. I think God has relaxed a lot more too lol 😉


    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 23, 2015 @ 09:48:52

      Thank you Norma. My memories of visiting a Catholic Church way back in my late teens are so vivid. I was so surprised that people weren’t dressed up like we had to in the Methodist church. It was very appealing at the time! As I’ve said above my poem is quite a flippant look back to my mid teen years and the general feel of things for me back then. A few people took it more seriously than intended. But then I have heard that when you let a poem loose out there then it becomes what it means to the reader! 😊 xxx


  12. journeyintopoetry
    Aug 23, 2015 @ 10:56:16

    Thank you Norma. I’m a terribly sensitive person! I’d hate to think I would upset anyone. This poem was really just a bit of fun. 😊 xx


  13. beckarooney
    Aug 23, 2015 @ 15:09:50

    This grabbed me from the first line, love it! Honest yet humorous too, I think everyone can relate to this. . . brilliant poem Christine 😀 xx


  14. Peter Wells aka Countingducks
    Aug 24, 2015 @ 12:16:40

    This line ” a weekly dose of pleated obedience –
    below the knee.” is full of imagery about obedience and the watchful eyes of parents and guardians. I remember those days myself, although I never actually got to the youth club having a very poor sense of direction myself ha ha ha


  15. Minuscule Moments
    Aug 27, 2015 @ 12:29:32

    Have been enjoying my virtual copy Christine.


  16. gretal feeson
    Aug 27, 2015 @ 20:52:05

    Really enjoyed reading this:)


  17. Suzy Hazelwood
    Aug 28, 2015 @ 19:42:48

    Love this one Christine! Have I read this before, or is it a similar poem? I haven’t got into reposts yet, I was thinking of it the other day, and then got in a quandary about which one. Decided to leave it a while!!! 😀

    Anyway, back to your poem, I love the recalling of your thoughts, memories and many of the witty phrases here, it pretty much describes how I felt too about church – what a life killer it was!! It’s comforting to know that a lot churches have radically changed with time. But I’m sure for teens today, there will always be a reason to raise the eyes to the ceiling in disgust! 😉

    It is sad though, that so many young people in those days felt they were failures when all they were trying to do was grow up and enjoy life. And who says you have failed even if you fall a few times?


    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 29, 2015 @ 09:08:08

      Thank you Suzy! Yes you may have seen this before. I think I posted it sometime last year or earlier this year.

      I think you are right about each new generation raising eyes to the ceiling. After all they tow the line all week with rules and regulations at school. Freedom is needed on a weekend!! 😄

      My parents weren’t actually that strict, but they were brought up in the Methodist church and to them that’s what Sunday was about. And the failure thing was probably more about me rather than them. I always wanted to please them (I always wanted to please everyone – no idea why) and I knew that if I didn’t go with them then they wouldn’t be too pleased soI felt Id failed in some way.

      Ive always been a people pleaser, many times to my own detriment, never being able to say ‘no’ and getting into situations I didn’t want. I have gradually, over the years, gained some balance here and know that sometimes it’s perfectly all right to say no. 😄

      And of course the poem was meant to be quite a lighthearted take on teenage years and the conflict between the stuffiness of the era of my parents generation and how things were gradually changing. xx


      • Suzy Hazelwood
        Aug 29, 2015 @ 13:53:00

        I know what you mean, my parents weren’t strict either – in the really unpleasant sense, but the religious oppression of ‘must’ gets into everything. I think my parents (as do most parents) had some regrets about the whole church thing as they grew older. But I reassured them it really wasn’t that bad. I found out as an adult talking to people my own age who grew up in that same church, their parents were horribly strict, no TV on a holy day, no friends (who weren’t from church) all that kind of thing. My brother and I were so lucky, we got to watch our favourite programmes while eating dinner. That was sooo important!! 😀

    • journeyintopoetry
      Aug 29, 2015 @ 14:06:46

      😊 From what you say it sounds like I was lucky too Suzy! It makes my parents sound like Angels! And yes my parents both mellowed as they grew older regarding church things. . 😊 xx


  18. frederick anderson
    Aug 30, 2015 @ 08:47:59

    Yes, I remember. The presumed guilt of youth – after all, there were so many things to be guilty of – targets set by jealous elders who had missed theirs and leant on God for consolation. I’m glad my parents were not so strict: I would have peeled a lot of vegetables, I think.


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