On Being an Everythingist. An Essay by Aoife Maguire

I’m not a very good Atheist – for example, Pre-Covid, I regularly found myself going into Whitefriar Street Church and lighting a candle for Our Lady of Dublin. I paid my 30 cent, picked a candle from the box, lit it, and then made sure I placed it in prime position – top shelf, as close to the centre as possible. I looked Mary in the eye, told her whatever was on my mind, blessed myself, and then went. I am someone who would say they don’t have a faith, so I’m not really sure I can explain the above. I just know it felt right.I was raised Catholic, but it hasn’t sat well with me since I was eleven years old and my family moved to the Middle East for a year. During that time, I attended an international school with children from thirty two different countries. Consequently, geographical location at birth and one’s “genre” of religion seemed so obviously connected that the idea that Catholicism was the one “true” truth, just didn’t make sense to me anymore. I mean, if by chance I had been born to a Jordanian family then I would have been raised a Muslim. And everyone can’t be right. Right?

I even defected in 2009. Got my name struck off the Baptismal register. At the time there was this movement called countmeout.ie and it was a very easy thing to do. I got an invitation from the Archbishop’s palace to go and discuss my defection, I jumped at the opportunity. Again, it felt right, and I’m glad I did.

Only May is such a beautiful month. The roses are starting to bloom, the passion flower on our back wall is beginning to take off, and by the evening I can smell the jasmine in the patio. And really I just want to say thanks… I remember how when we were little my granny would create a small May altar on a table on the landing. Her giant Blessed Virgin Mary statue would be at the centre, and we would place little flowers around her. I distinctly remember picking buttercups and daisies from the garden, putting them in egg cups, and placing them at Mary’s feet. Over the last few days I have to admit I have had this crazy urge to make my own May altar…

So, I’ve decided that maybe I’m not an Atheist. I think instead that I might be an á la carte “Everythingist” – someone who takes random best bits from all the religions, and just does them… It could be a bit like lunchtime in my class in Jordan when this Irish kid would have her sandwiches, and the Japanese twins would munch on their seaweed rolls, and the Pakisatani girl would eat her potato samosa. And sometimes we swapped food, and sometimes we didn’t, but we would all be chatting about the same thing – how much we disliked our form teacher, how much we liked cute Swiss boy Peter Grossenbacher in the class above us, and of course the onset of puberty (we were all eleven and twelve year old girls)…

So, I’m not quite sure who I am addressing, and in fact I don’t think it really matters, but, thanks. Thank you for the sunshine, thank you for the robin in our front garden, and a special thank you for the stunning May flowers.


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