I can still see the posters plastered all over the city. “September 18th Could Be Your Re-birthday.” with a huge picture of Father (Rev. Moon) smiling down.
September 18th, 42 years ago today.
We (my mother, my brother, and I) had just joined the Church that summer, and were caught up in the excitement of filling the Garden with sinners whom Father could preach to and save. And guide. And set free from Satan and their Original Sin. We had just learned that Father was the Messiah, and wanted everyone else to know this as well, and to feel our passion and determination for God.
September is a good month for birthdays, and I guess a good month for re-birthdays. My birthday is in September, and although I was only 11 back then, I was thrilled to share my birthday month with something as momentous as Father’s speech.
Someone once asked me how I came to believe the teachings of the Church. I don’t even think there was a “came to believe.” As children, we learn what we’re around. Racist parents yield racist kids. Religious parents yield religious kids. My mother brought us to the Church, and was excited about the Church, and hence it became our life.
I think of this every September 18th. I wonder if that day will always be as vibrant in my thoughts as my own birthday. I celebrate myself on my birthday, and then I reflect on, and celebrate, my past on the 18th. I remember. I own.
Years ago, and years after I had left the Church, someone told me that in order to heal and be whole, I had to integrate that part of me. I had to integrate my past. “No way,” was my response. Most of my energy at that point was spent pushing it away. Separating myself from it, as far and as stringently as possible.
But I’ve come to realize that that advice was true, and I’ve worked to accept the part of me that knew Father as the Messiah. The part of me that shouted through a bullhorn at the sinners walking by in the then seedy Times Square.
I integrate it even more on September 18th. I look back to that summer, that month, that day. I call up my zealousness and fervency. I remember the passion I felt, the certainty, the faith. I remember all that and allow it to be part of me. I celebrate my past, and then I celebrate the fact that I pulled away from my past. That I saved my life. That, in many ways, by leaving the Church I was reborn.
I celebrate my birthday and my re-birthday every September. September 18th could be my re-birthday.
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