For a very long time in my life (essentially since I graduated from college) I’ve been lost. Fallen from grace. Searching. Or maybe just lazy. In any case, I found my previously devout Catholic self suddenly angry at the Church and at organized religion in general.
I’ve forgotten why. And, per the words of my ever-so-wise mother – if you forgot, it must have been a lie. Or at least not important.
I’ve blamed everyone from the Pope to my husband for my lost faith, and realized recently that it was just me. Just my own brain questioning the details of things for no real good reason. I suppose people who believe just for the sake of believing might be on the fast track (Blessed are those who do not see and believe) – but I’m a bit more pragmatic than that.
So here we are five years later. I’m back near the church where I’ve always felt a connection, and I’m beginning to go again. Not every week and twice on Wednesday, mind you, but more often than before.
I’m not sure why I love this church so much – probably because it’s on campus and it tends to be a little more liberal than most, great music, and it has such an awesome eclectic range of parishioners – all ages, ethnicities and social background. It’s such an amazing vibe! And I adored the pastor there, Fr. Tom Firestone. He just recently left the parish, on to bigger and better things, but the new Fr. Tom is pretty darn good too. I suppose you have to be somewhat entertaining to keep the attention of students.
This afternoon, I arrive late (par for the course) so I take a seat behind the altar facing the majority of the congregation (always the last seats to be taken). I’m sitting in mass, waiting to get my forehead dirty and I look – really look – at all the people standing in front of me. They are all here for a reason. To be forgiven. They know they’re not perfect. The church knows they’re not perfect. And it’s OK. They all want to become better people, to make the world a better place, even for just a moment. And being there all together in this church – that is exactly what happened.
And I start to tear.
I’m so touched deep down in my soul that I finally realize that’s what it’s all about. It’s about being there and celebrating life and loving and saving the world and taking time out of your ever increasingly crazy day to just be. The rituals are there to hug you and guide you and carry you through – something familiar and steadfast as things change. The words of the songs not just sung but listened to are beautiful not just in melody but in meaning. The house - the high wooden beams, white walls and majestic steeples are overwhelming and vast and encompassing – just as God’s love.
It's really not about all the details. And I’m not angry anymore.
I’m not running to join the convent or sell all my belongings and move to Vatican City, mind you. But it feels really good – I mean REALLY GOOD to have things click again. Are there still many many things that I disagree with the Catholic Church – You Betcha! A lot of things? YES! But, it’s where my heart is. I really need it in my life.
It feels good to be home.