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Prayers not answered on a schedule

October 09, 2010|By Patrick Caneday

This the second in a three-part series: When Marguerite Beck was 5, she prayed for God to make it snow. Though infrequent, snow in the foothills of La Crescenta wasn't unheard of. She awoke the next day to a blanket of white covering her neighborhood. Raised by a devoutly Catholic mother, Marguerite prayed often after that.

"Mass every Sunday," she told me. "No meat on Fridays, confession at least every two weeks and usually daily mass during Lent. All major church holidays were attended in full regalia."

Even beyond the rituals, Marguerite felt a special connection to her god.

Her parents' marriage lasted 50 years, something she attributes to her mother's religious faith. Though it wasn't "Ozzie and Harriet," Marguerite looks back fondly, especially toward a mother she calls her "she-ro." Self-admittedly naïve and a prude, Marguerite always strived to do what was right in her faith and family.

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"I was constantly afraid of what people would think of me and mostly I just never wanted to hurt anyone. My job in this world was to be the peacemaker within my family and without."

At 20, Marguerite fell in love, married and set out to become the best mother she could be, just like the woman who raised her. She describes her life in the lyrics of a Mary Chapin Carpenter song: "She does the carpool, she PTAs. Doctors and dentists, she drives all day. When she was 29 she delivered No. 3. And every Christmas card showed a perfect family. Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design. Spit and polish till it shines."

Yet, there was a stirring under that shine, yearnings Marguerite felt almost all her life, but couldn't explain or express. When she met and grew close to a like-minded choir director at church, those stirrings finally emerged.

That choir director was the rector's wife.

Though she admits to having crushes on both boys and girls when she was young, she attributed the more confusing feelings for girls to being a tomboy. Her Catholic upbringing and conservative Christian family life told her such desires were unnatural and evil. As her feelings for the rector's wife grew, these admonitions haunted her.

"I was swimming in thoughts and emotions of doubt and fear...I was beaten down by my own fears and my own homophobia."

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