…the next thing I know I am sitting outside of a Catholic church. Can you believe that they lock churches during the day?! Seriously?! Who would steal from or vandalize a church? After all isn’t God watching you? Lol…
So, there I am, sitting on a bench in the middle of a beautiful petite rose garden, staring at a statue of Jesus and listening the calming flow of water that is coming out of a beautiful rock fountain. Since I have not been Catholic in quite sometime, I am not really sure how to proceed. So I started with the Our Farther, a.k.a, The Lord’s prayer. For the first time in my life I am listening to what I am reciting. I say reciting because I just always said the words robotically. Suddenly every word had meaning to me and I understood what the prayer was about. It was like my mind and eyes were opened for the first time to this prayer. After sitting for about a hour I went home, showered and went back to the church to go to mass at 5 o’clock. I sat way in the back right in front of the women’s bathroom so I could make a quick get away if needed…I didn’t want anyone to see me crying. I actually cried during church those first several times. I was having a lot of conflicting feelings and didn’t know how to deal with them. That very first time going back to church solidified for me that I really do believe in Spirits. At that moment I started believing again in The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I felt the homily was written just for me, for what I was going through at that moment and it helped me with the negative feelings I was having toward someone else who was also in church that day. I decided on that day that it was not my place to judge someone and their history. Also during that mass my TWO favorite church songs were played! So between the homily, the songs and that person randomly being there, I thought to myself there has to be some truth to all of this right?!
I started to get involved at church. Attended mass regularly every Saturday at 5pm. I took up the bible for the first time ever, checked out a bible study and bought cross earrings. I was totally devoted. I even went to confession!!! The priest at my church was very nice and took the time to listen to me. I met with him on a couple of occasions just to talk. I had SO MANY questions about me and my faith. I read devotionals, prayed in the chapel at the hospital where I worked and spoke with others who were devoted like me. Pope Francis really made a difference for me too. He practices love and acceptance and says he doesn’t judge. I know he isn’t perfect. Hopefully he’ll discover that women should be priests too!
But…. in the back of my mind and in the deepest depths of my heart I knew something still wasn’t fitting just right. I STILL believed that there is more than one way to pray. That people in India pray to Krishna and Brahman, people in Japan pray to Buddha, Muslims pray to Allah, Native Americans pray to The Great Spirit. I kept asking myself, “Why do so many Catholics believe it is their way or the highway?” How on earth or heaven for that matter (I don’t believe in hell) could I discount someone else’s peaceful spiritual beliefs? The bible did not make any sense to me either. I may make a few people angry when I say this but the bible has been written and rewritten and edited for a couple thousand years. I just can’t accept it as the final word.
Now, there were several times during that emotional year that I just wasn’t sure if I mattered to anyone or even mattered to myself. I was in the depths of a downward spiral of self deprecation. I knew I would make it through this and come out happier. I always believed in the happy outcome. I had friends and family that loved me and cared for me but I needed to love myself. I remember sitting in bed one day crying so loudly and feeling so low. I was in the middle of an “oh woe is me” fit. Then suddenly out of NOWHERE I felt the most loving reassurance. This feeling of unconditional love came from another realm. It wrapped it’s love around me and I completely stopped crying. I can’t explain it any better than that. I stopped going to church on a regular basis sometime this past April. I will fully admit that I kept running into people that I didn’t particularly want to see. So I started church hopping. I still haven’t found one that embodies what Sacred Heart did. I am still looking and I only have a few more weeks left in this small town.
I remember having a conversation with my dad about how I don’t believe in everything that the Catholic church says. He said he doesn’t either but he believes in The Lord and takes the good part from Catholicism. I always thought it was an all or nothing deal. Believe in it all or get out. This opened up another door for me on my road to spiritual awareness.
Also during this time of trials and tribulations I discovered Deepak Choprah and the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Self awareness, karma, silence… I was feeling guilty for starting to believe yet again in another spirituality. Oh the Catholic guilt. Ever hear of the saying about guilt…”The Jews invented it and the Catholics perfected it.” Hahahaha…
Call me what you will...but I believe in “love.” I don’t hate. I may not understand and I may not agree but I don’t hate. I do believe in another world. Heaven if you will. I do believe in karma. You get back what you put out there. I do believe in people like Jesus and Buddha etc… I believe that there is that kind of love out there. Maybe I believe in it a little too much. I also believe that “God” presents her or himself in different ways to different people. Yes I said “her.” I don’t discount those feelings or epiphanies I had during my early struggles over that past year. I just accept them as a warm and welcoming starting point for belief in something bigger than the physical world again.
I will always be on a spiritual journey. I was on a super scary flight once and I said to my sister afterward that I would have prayed to a wooden spoon had that been what got us to the ground safely. I did however say to God and myself on that flight that I would become Catholic again if we were to land safely. I did keep that promise but it wasn’t until years later that I rejoined the Catholic church. Now here I am again, embattled in an inner religious dilemma. But I don’t think that “God” would be upset with me for challenging and exploring my religion or others. As of today I still belong to Sacred Heart Catholic Church on a technicality… I became a member a year ago. But today, right now, I consider myself a member of world religions. Of the peaceful, loving and giving ones. I accept and love the good in people. I pray for everyone. I have found that if I let my spiritual self go, my life starts to become harder and more complicated. So I am trying to put “Gods” first and me and my needs second.
Peace, love and exploration,
“Give what you have, to someone it may be better than you dare to think.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow