Pt 1 (written January 2017)
“Isis is persecuting Christians and Catholics all over the world, just like democrats are persecuting us Catholics here in the U.S.” -said during Prayer of the Faithful
And with that, my spiritual space crumbled beneath me. Or at least it felt that way.
I am the first to admit my idealistic view of the world. I’d like to think of it more as hopefulness in humanity than naivete. But whatever. Church and Sunday mass for me has always been my safe space to escape all the ignorance that exists in the world (idealism, take one?). And while my faith/spirituality/religion have always been intertwined and have ebbed and flowed along with life, I believe that it is mine, as others are theirs. No right or wrong, simply unique to each individual, without judgment (idealism, take two?) Aaand I know there are issues within the Catholic Church itself given, you know, human involvement, but I’ve chosen to seek out church communities that feel more inclusive rather than judgment-filled and judgment-focused (idealism, take three?). But really, really, I was fortunate to find a space in Texas where I experienced healing, and weekends away, and sisterhood like no other. And I’ve always sought the same in whatever city I end up in. Austin, my first home away from home, offered me a safe space right across the street from my dorm. I rarely missed a week. It offered me redemption. In Chicago…well, life got a little out of hand in Chicago and I struggled to swim against the current at times, but I still managed to find my way back to my childhood church. It offered me a second chance. In Miami, I church-hopped for a few weeks before finding a good fit. Despite clenched fists, it offered me calm.
Now in Las Vegas, I felt I lucked out with the first church I visited. I check out another for good measure the week after…didn’t fit for me. So I went back to the first. And have every Sunday. This week’s experience left a bitter taste in my mouth that I cognitively know shouldn’t affect my feeling toward the physical space…but, I don’t think my heart or spirit got that message. They aren’t as pragmatic as I’d like them to be sometimes. And I know people like that exist…[and by “like that” I mean judgmental people who preach one thing yet do another]. I just wish it wasn’t so prevalent or present or vocal in a space where love and non-judgment are supposed to be the primary messages. I can’t get myself to go back. Not there. Not yet.
So lately, this has been my church:
I feel more connected to my God in this space. Under the open sky. Accepted, fully. As I am. With good intentions. And flawed.
Pt 2 (written July 2017)
I still feel something’s missing. Spiritually. I feel lost. Like, even if I wasn’t feeling stuck, I still wouldn’t know where to go. Let’s ignore the fact that I’m navigationally-challenged. Or maybe let’s not. It’s a good metaphor. If left to my own devices, I will turn the opposite direction of where I need to go. Always. Even when I feel confident. Like, super confident. Going the right way, right Clouds? Nope, wrong direction. Every single time. While my spiritual journey hasn’t been that dramatic, I do feel lost. I can feel I’m not going in the right direction. Or rather, I’m not going at all. I think part of it also comes down to me not feeling completely safe doing so, like walking across a tightrope knowing there’s no safety net below. Or crossing the street when the little white man hasn’t given me permission and the potential for traffic coming from both directions is high (…sooo many layers to that statement but we won’t go into that now. …and I’m a bit colorblind so if he’s green on the crossing signal, my apolgies, but the metaphor is still fitting so just go with it).
I recognize that there are numerous contributing factors to this feeling, so I can’t blame this feeling on a single incident. Life, at the moment, is…weird. [Weird: a very eloquent word to describe the amalgamation of beginnings and endings and identities along with societal and familial expectations and nearing the end of my 20-somethings and discovering and uncovering things I’d rather have kept tucked deeply away. …yup, weird).
My spirituality used to ground me. I can’t seem to get that feeling lately. Like I can’t deep enough breaths.
I still pray every morning before stepping out into the world. And at night as I give thanks for the day and ask for forgiveness for any missteps of the day. I keep a gratitude journal that I write in every morning. I try to incorporate mindfulness practices when I can. (Try: a word used to describe the act of knowing something will be really good for you and you believe it so you want to do it, but you are human and make excuses as to why it’s not possible to gain consistency). So I guess my spirituality still grounds me, but more in a “let’s keep this chick from crawling into the fetal position” type of way.
Things I miss: I miss the sense of community. I miss the song. I miss my voice. I miss the overwhelming peace. Heck, I even miss the shake me to my core, bring tears to my eyes emotion I would experience. I felt that meant it was working, whatever it was. Or maybe that I was working. Yeah, I think that’s it. I don’t feel like I’m putting in work at the moment. I don’t know where I’m going so how could I? How does that saying go? You’ve gotta take the first step? Can we go back to me being navigationally-challenged for a moment? …so do I go left when I my first instinct is to go right?
Things I miss: feeling safe.