When I left the Catholic church, as I said earlier, it was not because I was protesting it’s doctrine or because I felt misused by it. I did not leave under duress but more as a kind of meandering I guess I’d say. I wandered away from Catholicism and it was not hard to wander away.
My family was “devout” in that we held to the basic rule of making sure our “Easter Duty” was in order. We did go to church most weeks. I went to Catholic schools for 12 years so I was always in the practice.
The community in which I lived was not a neighborhood as much as it was a parish. My neighbors were the people I went to church and school with, they were people I saw at the grocery store and the football games and walking their dogs. It was rare to find someone I met who was NOT Catholic and even then, they were probably merely “lapsed” Catholics so in a way, it still counted. I was surrounded by my faith and the practice of that faith daily.
And yet, it was easy to drift away when the family, the parish and the community structure was gone from me. I didn’t go to a Catholic college, lived on campus and had no car. To get to Mass would have taken a lot more energy than I wanted to spend, to be honest.
I did not wander from God. Even then, I knew God so deeply that I would have thought someone crazy to even suggest that was possible.
I did not wander from Christ. I remember conversations with new friends of all faiths and being asked often, “Do you REALLY think that Jesus was God?? How can you believe that?” and I did not doubt that for a moment. I could see how crazy an idea it was, I agreed with them that it was implausible and yet, I believed it. My faith in God has never been logic based, it’s always been embedded in my cells. For me, even then, to throw that away would have felt like cutting off an arm or a leg.
I wandered away from the structure that was in place around me and it was easy to do. Surrounded by so many new experiences and people and conversations it was easy to let go of the practice.
I think of this often as I travel this pilgrim road to Orthodoxy. I worry that I’ve not matured as much as I hope. I worry that I’ll be prone to wander again, that it will all be a waste of time and energy and practice. If this journey has a metaphor related to physical fitness and of course, I believe it does, then I remind myself in the moment that the practice is important. I remind myself that to worry about what it might NOT be is like not even entering the gym because when all is said and done I won’t have the body I hope to have. I cannot take a “why bother” approach to my body or my emotions…why should I allow myself to be stopped in my pursuit of spiritual health?
It’s all new and all familiar…the practice is the thing right now.