It is surprising, sometimes, how vivid our memories are. Sometimes, without any intentional desire, I am suddenly drawn back into a memory and relive it, with all the sensations, with everything I felt at the time. I hesitate at times to talk about events that pain me, because to talk about them, unless I do so on a very superficial level, is to relive them.
I remember a time when I was in 6th grade, probably about 11 years old. My mother had asked me to welcome a new couple into our neighborhood. Excited, I had taken the cake or whatever the welcoming gift was, and I and Dustfinger, who was probably about 8 at the time, traipsed on over. We were both dressed in long-sleeved shirts and pants. I had on green pants, as I remember. We knocked at the door and the lady of the house opened it. I asked her whether her daughter wanted to come bike-riding with me. She looked me up and down, thanked me, but said no.
Only later did I find out that her daughter wasn't allowed to play with little girls who wore pants. That day, I didn't know why she looked at me that way, why it was that I was found wanting. All I knew was that there was something about me that she didn't like, and I didn't know why. It was so undeserved, and so cruel, and it has left an impression on me to this day. I remember all the pain and confusion I felt then. Innocently, I had tried time and again to try to play with this little girl, and each time I was refused.
People who judge children by their attire and not by the pureness of their heart commit a grave wrong. There is something of value in teaching another person that one doesn't have to act the same way that others act, but can nonetheless respect them as people, reach out to them, and act kindly towards them. This is the way we were brought up in my house, and we would meet people who were both more religious and less religious than us, and would honor them either way.
I believe that God loved me as the 11-year-old-girl I was. I believe He knew that I intended no wrong against Him, that I loved His world of sky and sunshine and wind and snow, this miraculous world that had been given to me as my plaything and my universe, to shelter and encompass me. I do not see why mortal men should attempt to be holier than God. All this talk of being concerned about how other children "influence" other children religiously is somewhat ridiculous. Are your children so frail that they cannot understand that you do certain things in your house, and other people do certain things in theirs, and we approach each person with love, regardless? And if they are so frail, why is that so?