Monday, October 02, 2006

Seeing the Divine in Ordinary Life: Finding a Church or How a Church Finds You (Part I)

Seeing the divine in "ordinary life" is a pretty new concept for me, maybe its always been there and it just got buried under the weight of the version of Catholicism I grew up with. I grew up being taught that God was a punishing God and the only way to not go to hell was to do exactly what God said to do and to do exactly what the Roman Catholic Church tells you to do.

Well, long story short, by the time I was 16 I was through with the Catholic Church. I couldn't be a priest, I couldn't be a deacon, I couldn't, I couldn't, I couldn't was all I was hearing, and on top of all that if I even thought about any of it off to hell I'd go. The positive side to letting go of Catholicism was that this opened me up to other religions (I was actually taught at my Catholic Elem/Middle School not to talk to the Lutherans because they were "bad" because they didn't believe Mary was a virgin).

I explored Buddhism, New Agism, the Koran, Confusius-ism, and I started to see where some of the commonality lay between all these religions. And for a long time this was enough - the exploring, but never staying, because in the end, these faiths didn't feel like home. I have incorporated many Buddhisms in my life, and a few New Agisms, but the rest, well, all I can say is that intellectually I could follow, but spiritually I just couldn't embrace the ideas.

I had tried over the years to go back to the Catholic Church, but well, Catholic Churches (at least in my experiences) don't embrace strangers let alone acknowledge you. So that same old anger would return, plus I still hadn't forgiven the Catholic Church for how it treats women. And then, a friend of mine invited me to her Methodist Church: tons of people said hello, hope you come back, they had women priests, were gay friendly, and wow was I amazed. But, yes the but, something was still missing but I didn't know what. More time passed and my ex-girlfriend told me about her co-worker's church...and when I walked onto that Church campus it was magical and then I met the people and the magic was still there. I was home. But like all rebellious children it would take a few more years to finally come home for good.

When we decided it was time to take the children to church (well, our son had a big part in this) I knew where we were going - no questions asked - that church was it - all or nothing, and the whole drive there I kept praying that it hadn't changed, please let it still fell like home. And it did, this amazing church is The Church of Reconciliation. I didn't know anything about Episcopalians, or were they Anglicans, or were these words interchangeable? I only knew that the service felt and sounded like - Catholicism, but it was somehow very different, like they only kept the good parts. I've been an Episcopalian ever since. I'm still learning what that means exactly. And I'm still learning what it means to practice one's faith in a community after so long on my own. And I'm re-remembering what it means to be a child of God.

No comments: