When I was in elementary school many, many years ago, there was a daily morning ritual. We’d stand up, put our hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegience. Then we’d bow our heads and recite The Lord’s Prayer.
Given that I was a “go along to get along” kid at the time, I did what every other kid in the class did. I recited these by rote, not really understanding or even caring about the meaning of the words I was reciting. It was just something we were required to do.
It didn’t take me too long to grasp the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, but I had a harder time with The Lord’s Prayer, especially once I started paying attention to the words.
My father’s name was Alan, not Art. So who was Art and why was he living in heaven? And why did they hollow out his name? And what will would he be doing until it was done?
What was so special about having bread every day? As far as trespassing, my mother had taught me to not go on the lawn of the crotchety old man who lived next door, but why would he be trespassing on our lawn?
One night at dinner I finally decided to ask my parents to explain The Lord’s Prayer to me. Ours was not a particularly religious family. My father never went to church and my mother went only sporadically. When I asked the question, my father said, “It’s just a bunch of religious mumbo jumbo.”
My mother explained that it’s a prayer to God, but she said that if I didn’t want to recite it every morning, I didn’t have to. I could just stand there, head bowed, and be silent. “Use that time to reflect,” she said.
The next morning, I was sent to the principal’s office after telling my teacher that I wasn’t going to recite religious mumbo jumbo anymore. I received a week of after school detention for that indiscretion.
Perhaps that incident contributed to my becoming an atheist.
Written for today’s one-word prompt, “recite.”