23 June 2008

Catholic Karma

Does it exist, or does God just have a perverse sense of humor?

I never had a class in comparitive religion. I don't think St. Thomas offered it back when, but at that point in my life, one religion was plenty to deal with. Getting through my three required theology classes, along with my required philosophy classes in ethics and logic, was enough to keep me from venturing far and wide.

My understanding of karma is the axiom of "what goes around, comes around." Probably a Christian perspective would be, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Golden Rule kind of thing. But, karma is a little more involved, since Hinduism and Buddhism (along with some other religions) both believe in karma. I'm more familiar with the Hindu idea of karma that "the effects of all deeds actively create past, present, and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to him/her and others." And, this summation of your life's deeds will determine if you are reincarnated as a goat or if you reach Nirvana. It's a lot more complicated than that, but I have enough to study in my own Catechism instead of concerning myself with another religion's Enlightenment.

Lately, I've been trying not to concern myself at all...with my neighbor. Seems if things settle down with the family, then the neighbors have to find a way to keep it interesting. My neighbor across the street insists on parking right in front of our house. We live in the city. It's not just common courtesy to park your car in front of your own house, it's common knowledge -- Basic Neighbor Relations 101. We've lived here eight years and our cars are always in the exact same spots, unless, of course, the neighbor across the street parks her car in one of "our" places. There are NO cars parked on her side of the street. None. A rock star's entourage could pull up with their huge buses and she'd still have a place to park.

The irony, or you could say karma, is that back when I was that student at St. Thomas, I used to park my big old Buick across the street in front of my neighbor's house. Difference was (read: mitigating factor), that I grew up in the suburbs and NO ONE parked on the street. Everyone parked in their driveways or in their garages. I wasn't usurping anyone's parking spot. I parked in the street because both of my parents worked and had to get out of the garage/driveway, and because my schedule was so erratic with school and work, I always was blocking someone. So, I parked in the street.

When I got a car, I started out by parking on my own side of the street for a very long time. My car was happy there under the shade of the big maple tree. Except, one day I had to race home for something. I parked on the other side of the street and before I even got out of my car, the neighbor lady was running out of her house, yelling at me that I couldn't park there, it was "her" side.

Well, back then I wasn't the sweet, forgiving soul that I am now *ahem* so, barking at me like that, me of stubborn German descent, was not the way to handle the situation. From that point on, I was unable to stop my car from parking itself on the neighbor's side of the street. And, every day, I got a chance to say "hi" to the neighbor lady as she came running out of her house to greet me.

My, how the tables have turned. I don't know if this is karma or if God really is working on instilling those virtues I keep half-heartedly praying for. I'm afraid if I pray in earnest for virtues, I might have to park a block over.

My father always insisted that if God laughed, it was a big, hearty laugh. Don't I know it.


Christine said...

Karma or no karma, God gave you the grace to learn from your past. Isn't that a most precious gift?! And you know what they say about those who fail to learn from history.

Seen on a bumper sticker: "My karma just ran over your dogma."

Pax et bonum!
Christine from Maryland

swissmiss said...

Yes, learning from my past is a very precious gift. I much prefer these ironic, but very illustrative, examples that help me catch a slight glimpse of the state of my soul to some of the knock down, kicks in the seat of my pants that I've gotten in the past! Most of the time I need the smack-upside-the-head approach, but when I am blessed with the grace to see the more subtle examples, I thank my lucky stars!

And, I've seen that bumper sticker too!

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ah, the great parking space controversy, nothing like it! We have that in my 'hood too.

I park in my driveway and could care less where people park on the street as long as they are not blocking the driveway.

But, I have a neighbors who get really upset when someone is in "their" spot.

It's almost like when someone is in MY pew on Sunday, isn't it?!?