In the palace of nowhere

Oh, to be Catholic again… to be Catholic again… may seem like an odd thing to say, like faith is decision that can be changed like one changes jobs, as if you pick and choose where and when to practice your “faith”.  I guess I am proof you can do that, but I have come to discover it really isn’t a choice at all, it is more a lack of commitment with perhaps a bit of arrogance and ignorance mixed in. I have come to realize that for me, faith has become about experiencing God through the Church’ s teachings.

The Church gives me a headache, she really does. I have argued with her, fought with her, wrestled with her history, wrestled with her priests. I have left her, begged her to take me back, fought with her some more, doubted her, turned my back on her, left her again. I have looked other places, at other churches, at other religions – I have chanted with the Buddhists, reasoned with the Unitarians, practiced the remembrance with the Sufis, stopped just short of being slain in the spirit and rolling on the floor – I just couldn’t bring myself to do it…All looking to fill emptiness in me that I thought the Church, our Church wasn’t doing a good enough job providing for me. I kept looking and couldn’t find anything, so once again, I came back to her, to her open arms, like a mother hugging me, her child, who had run away. It was important for me to realize that the Church is a human organization flawed certainly by the sins of the fathers and honestly, by us. These flaws can be distracting, but if we look beyond them and at our experience of Christ, we can perhaps maintain our faith in Christ and His Church. I am not for a minute suggesting that any of the deepest wounds the Church has made should be over looked or minimized, but as we look to repair that damage – and perhaps Pope Francis represents our best chance at that – our foundation of faith shouldn’t be shaken. It is a goal we can always work towards – I know it was one I have to work hard at still, it is a constant conversion. The Church still gives me a headache, but now it is the headache families give each other. The angst we get when we are short with our spouse or kids, or have an argument with our brother. We still know we are family.

Jesus patiently sits at that well where we go again and again trying to be satisfied, waiting for us to ask Him about the living water that will satisfy us.  Sometimes when I am praying, I see myself reaching into the tabernacle, deep into it, and I see a beautiful new world. It is at those times that I think I am seeing with Jesus’ eyes. I think, in my busy, busy life, I forget. Seeing with Jesus’ eyes does take quiet time with no distraction just to be with him, to let Him show me what He sees. He waits for me and for all of us to notice, I think.

“The core of our being is drawn to the quiet depths of each moment where God waits for us with eternal longing. Like stones skipped across the surface of the water, we are kept skimming along the peripheral, one dimensional fringes of life. To sink into the unknown depths of God’s call to union with himself is to lose all the false self knows and cherishes. “

 ~ James Finley, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere – One of my favorite quotes from a book about one of my favorite Catholics – Thomas Merton.

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