Driving home tonight, I saw what I believe to be the body of a dog splayed in the middle of the road. It was upsetting, and I did what I always do in those circumstances: I crossed myself.
It's a resilient vestige from my semi-Catholic childhood. In our family, you'd cross yourself at least three times a day -- before you ate, every time. It was part of a family tradition that before every meal, you would invite everyone at the table to eat, with extra respect to your elders. So there was the crossing and inviting, at least three times a day, and also before snacks. It's a nice thing that I do sometimes with friends now. But the crossing has pretty much gone by the wayside, except in these instances.
I couldn't really tell you why I do it. I mean, I think I've been clear that I can't quite grasp/buy its underlying tenets. Maybe I'm hedging my bets, like Pascal and his wager -- that believing delivers a better likelihood of a good outcome than not believing.
Or maybe it's an easy part of my vocabulary now, and I just don't know any other language with which to pray. I'm really sad for those animals, and I'm not even sure what I'm praying. It's undefined. Maybe the crossing lets me get by without actually having to articulate my feelings or attack what I'm thinking with logic.