PILGRIMAGE OF A CHILD OF HOLLYWOOD
The Family Reunion

May 1988By Cherry Boone O'Neill

Cherry Boone O’Neill, the oldest daughter of Pat Boone, is the author of Starving for Attention, the international best-selling book on her recovery from anorexia nervosa and bu­limia. She subsequently wrote the book Dear Cherry: Ques­tions and Answers on Eating Disorders. She is also a song­writer. The above article is adapted from The New Catho­lics, edited by Dan O’Neill and published last fall by Cross­road.

“...And please bless Mommy and Daddy and Lindy and Debby and Laury and Frosty. God bless all my friends. God bless Lassie and….” A mo­ment of silent anticipation interrupted the simple prayer pouring forth from my four-year-old heart. With a furrowed brow and one ear cocked heaven­ward, I asked: “…and could you please talk a lit­tle louder, God? I can’t quite hear you.”

This childhood tale not only produces paren­tal chuckles but evokes nostalgic memories of inno­cent and uncomplicated faith — the kind of faith we long for in later years when age, experience, and worldly realities interfere with our lines of spiritual communication with God. For as far back as I can remember, I always had some kind of in­teraction with God. Likewise, I have always had an understanding, however primitive, that Jesus was God’s Son and our Savior. And as the preceding ac­count clearly demonstrates, I have always expected prayer to be a dialogue.

Christianity has, from my earliest recollec­tions, been more than a moral code or a specific spiritual path. It has been a relationship,. As in ev­ery long-term partnership, there must be growth and change, not only because relationships are dy­namic, but because we as individuals are transform­ed over a period of time. Without development, there is stagnation. We seem to resist change, but it is essential to growth — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Needless to say, I have certainly changed from the four-year-old, pig-tailed sprite I was when my prayers consisted of long lists of “God bless’s.” In many ways the changes have been for the better, yet at times I wonder if certain changes have pulled me from the simple faith I had as a child. Some­times I wish it were that easy again. But if it were, my faith as an adult would hardly be realistic in light of the world we live in and the person I have become. In order to understand just who I am now, I must review the road I have traveled thus far.


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