The height of my religiousness peaked at 12 years old, right about the time my favorite chicken got mauled by a fox. Back then, going to church and praying was as much a part of my Catholic school curriculum as Social Studies. I wasn’t a fan of either.
The night the fox attacked my Brahma hen Tweety, I decided it was time to use my super duper prayer training skills to convince God that Tweety should survive the night. It never occurred to me that God might have more important things to do than salvage some weird little girl’s pet chicken, but rationality wasn’t one of my stronger points. So, I stayed up the entire night, praying to God through a mess of tears and snots. As much as I begged him to work some Harry Potter magic and heal all of my bird’s wounds, Tweety did not heal. I still had to go to school the next morning and give the bad news to my best friend Tessa. I told her that the bird she and I had spent so many hours giving chicken manicures to had, in fact, died. I pretended that I forgave God for not making my chicken a priority over world hunger and global poverty. I pretended I didn’t care.
I’m not a Catholic anymore and I don’t go to church. Not because I have some deep seated grudge against God, but because after a while, it all stopped making sense to me. Over the years, my church turned into a barn and taking care of animals became as close to religion as I’ve come since. These days, when people ask me what my faith is, I joke and say, “I pray to the Great Chicken in the Sky,” but maybe, just maybe, it’s not that far from the truth.