Wednesday 7 December 2016

No religion - just a sense of wonder

Miriam O'Callaghan will be ticking that box on the census but she'll continue to marvel at the beauty of religion

Miriam O'Callaghan

Published 24/04/2016 | 02:30

NATIVITY PLAY: Without the Birth of Christ (depicted here in the movie The Nativity), what would millions of aspiring thespian schoolchildren do, left with no inn-keeper to play, no wise men, nor three kings bearing gifts for Baby Jesus?
NATIVITY PLAY: Without the Birth of Christ (depicted here in the movie The Nativity), what would millions of aspiring thespian schoolchildren do, left with no inn-keeper to play, no wise men, nor three kings bearing gifts for Baby Jesus?

Tonight, filling in the census, I will tick the box 'No Religion'. But I'm not an exultant secularist. I pray for friends, for their special intentions, for their broken hearts or minds, for refugees, for those with no one to remember them, that MRIs will be clear, exams will go well or, in spells of catastrophic thinking: "Please, let nothing bad happen."

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When friends - and increasingly their children - make offerings at shrines in India or Nepal, I'm thankful.

In turn, I light candles for them, in the few churches where I feel the presence of God. On an altar - actually a rickety shelf - in my house are the Marys: Rocamadour, Carcassonne, Amiens, Valentia Island; Mary Magdalen from Rennes-le-Chateau, from further South, Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

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