...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Road Less Traveled, Pt. 1

Trail at Mills-Norrie State Park (Photo by son, Bryan)
In the book The Road Less Traveled, the author makes a statement that really stood out to me. He said, “The Catholic Church provided me with my living as a psychiatrist.”

I grew up in the Catholic Church. I was baptized as an infant, attended Catechism classes, received my first Holy Communion, and had my Confirmation. I even attended those special classes that got you out of school for an hour or so in elementary school. I believe it was called, “Release Time”. I learned that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and sins were the bad things I did. I learned to pray the Lord’s Prayer, say the Apostle’s Creed, go to confession and heard some stories of the Bible. I rarely got anything out of Sunday sermons, but the classes introduced me to the idea that there was more outside my own little world than just MY experiences. It also was the start of learning many traditions of the Catholic church.

My mother filled in the rest. Telling me that even though she could not be everywhere, God could and he knew everything I did. She also let me know that for every wrong I may have done, I should do something good to counter it. She is the one who really taught us the Lord’s Prayer. She is the one who put the “FEAR” of God (or was it the Devil?) in me.  Anyway, it was a foundation that I had to build on, warped though it may be.
In my preteen years, I remember one Sunday sitting with my dad on the hill above our home. Both of us did not go to church and we had hiked up the hill to enjoy the beauty of the view from the top. As we sat, I ask him why he didn’t go to church anymore. He said he couldn’t stand to watch the hypocrites that went there, doing nice nice on Sunday and doing not so nice on all the other days. He took his hand and waved it in front of us and said, “This is all the church I need.” Hmmmm, food for thought.

When I was in Jr. High I attended a Social Studies class. During the first week, the teacher asked each student to raise their hands if they were Christians. (Imagine this today!!!) Several students raised their hands including me. He proceeded to go on to Jewish, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Protestant, and finally Catholic. At this point I was in a quandary. I KNEW I was Catholic, but I already raised my hand for Christian and as far as I knew a Christian was anyone who believed in Christ. Was there a difference? Thus was the start of my search --on and off through the years -- to find out.

While still in High School, I listened more carefully to what people said their “beliefs” were. Remember, I grew up with the conflicting times of “Jesus Christ Superstar!”, “Godspell”, and the slogan, “God is dead!” I listened and I took in a lot. Very confused, I decided maybe it was all a hoax. Then and there I decided to live as if God did not exist. I wouldn’t go to church, I wouldn’t say Grace, I wouldn’t say my prayers at night. Within two weeks, I could no longer take it. Questions had been  popping into my head ever since I started this experiment:

If there was no God, then who created all this?
Who organized everything to grow from seed to flower and back to seed?
Who designed this phenomenal human body that I was learning so much about?
Where did the structure for all our government and laws come from?
What was I doing here? Did I have a purpose? Does anyone have a purpose?

My answer to all this was there had to be a God. It was the only thing that made sense. So I gave up the notion that there was no God and embarked on a search for who He was and what my purpose was in this life.

As I stated earlier, as a child I learned to pray. My prayers went something like this: “Dear God, if you will just get me a new bicycle, I will do…..” only calling up God when I needed something.

Then I remember the time I heard a friend of my mom’s say to her, “You know God wants to hear from you every day, not just when you want something” and that got me thinking.

A sister-in-law once said, “If I ever had children, I would introduce them to God and the Church and let them make their own decisions.” That too, got me thinking.

Such was the beginning of my walks on a road to spiritual awakening. In later blogs, I will share more of my encounters and where I am today. By the way, Peck does continue in his book to say, "I could equally well have said the Baptist Church, Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church, or any other." Still walking down the road…

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