I bought a rosary.

You may know that I was raised Catholic. Although I was not a believer, I did attend 12 years of Catholic school.

I’ve known many people who had to struggle hard to free themselves from the cords of religious beliefs, so I’m grateful I never believed. Not believing was a decision I made when I was nine years old, and it was a good decision. Here’s how that came about.

My best friend when I was nine was Linda, and her family was not Catholic. Not only that, her parents were divorced. Because of that, my father attempted to convince me to not be friends with her. “We don’t believe in divorce,” he said. I’m sure I made a face and said something like, “What in the world does her parents being divorced have to do with us being best friends? Good grief.” Or however that may have come out of my nine-year-old mouth.

Besides, we weren’t just best friends, we were blood sisters. We had made a sacred bond by pricking our fingers and mingling our blood. 😊

I still value ritual, which is part of the story of buying a rosary. But that’s for later.

Still nine years old, I was taught in school that only Catholics go to heaven. I couldn’t believe my ears! I questioned the teacher about it. How could that be? My blood sister would go to hell? No way! Besides, there must be plenty of truly good people who weren’t Catholic! But Sister Mary What’s Her Name was firm. Only Catholics go to heaven.

I don’t know if that is still part of Catholic dogma, but it sure served a purpose in my life. I refused to believe it. It made no sense. It was mean. Besides, how could they possibly know who was in heaven and who wasn’t? I wanted nothing to do with it. I could not and would not believe it.

Soon, I realized that if I didn’t believe that teaching, maybe I didn’t have to believe any of it. And that was the decision I made. At nine years old, I became a nonbeliever in religion. It was a great and wonderful freedom.

I never announced my decision to my family, although I may have become a thorn in the side of some of my religion teachers over the years. From then until now, I have been wary of beliefs.

You’ve heard me say it — I stalk beliefs. I lurk around the corners of my mind, listening to what I think and to what I say, ready to pounce on a belief when it appears. When I catch one, I celebrate. Because then I can freely choose whether to keep it or release it. Over the years, I’ve caught many beliefs (including the belief in heaven and hell). I’m still catching them.

And just think, I owe that to the Catholic religion!

But what about my rosary? That’ll have to wait until next time. This Signal Fire is already long enough.  ❤️