How Did I Reach This Place?

Posted by on 12.09.08 | 5 Comments
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My faith life has recently taken a new and surprising turn, but then, this has happened before. Looking back, I can see that my path has been like the Mouse Ride at an amusement park; racing straight ahead in one direction, then an abrupt turn at right angles in another direction.

I was born to radical parents just after World War II, both of whom had rejected their childhood belief for a faith in political activism. I grew up thinking I should be saving the world, and agreeing with my dad that religion was probably for the demented or the neurotic.

But faith crept in, unbidden, in my Junior Year abroad in Oxford, England. Perhaps the bells tolling helped, or the glorious boys’ choirs—my dad could accept music wrapped around religion.

Listening to St. John’s Passion unhinged me and sent me at right angles to my former life, straight into a belief in Jesus, his radical message, and personal transformation.

This compass directed my life for some decades, but then seven years ago the Mouse Faith ride took another sudden turn, when I felt called to the Catholic Church with its mystery, sacraments, mystics, and wells of silence within the liturgy. For several years I lived happily (if sometimes crankily due to the church’s positions on women and gays); kneeling, absorbing the dance of the liturgy, and listening to a wise priest.

Yet again, my car of faith has gone swiftly sideways. Perhaps spurred by surgery, which forced me to be still and gaze out the window, certain thoughts came unbidden. If I am honest, messages come into my thoughts regularly which seem not be my own but from a deeper, wiser mind. The first message was; “It doesn’t particularly matter if you are suffering or joyful. They are just notes in the same song.”

The present expanded like a wide ocean, and I began to live within the moment. At the same time, I sometimes experienced a blurring of the boundaries between myself and the outer world when it seemed that the life within me rushed out to meet the life inside the rustling leaves and the slant of rain. My critical mind fell away, and I experienced living with a Presence which did not seem personal anymore (What happened to my Jesus phone line?), but more like a wide and buoyant ocean.

Being with people also changed. I was no longer affixing labels to them—“Pretty, critical, annoying, too conservative etc.” I simply was. With them. And I knew that the life inside me was the same as the deepest life within them.

Am I done yet? I hope so. I cannot imagine another leap in a different direction. I am still trying to absorb the switch in consciousness, trying to put together my previous faith life with the present one. Can it be done? I don’t know, except I have an inner certainty that names do not matter, that where I am now is not all that different from where I was before. It just feels more spacious and as if I have more breath inside. And so I say with Julian of Norwich,

“All well be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” Except I would change it to—“All is well, all is well, and all manner of things are well.”

http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/rww02/margerykempe/new_page_17.htm

Wikiquotes of commentary by Julian of Norwich

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