The beginning of my spiritual journey

Recent conversations on other blogs have prompted me to write out my spiritual journey . . . where I came from and how I got to where I am now. There are so many twists and turns, and I am still growing in my relationship to my Higher Power(s). There is no way that I could write all of this in one reasonably readable blog post, so I’ve decided to break it up. Maybe revisiting all of the curves in my path will help lead me to a new one or to clarify the one I am already on. Personal growth is forever the goal!

I grew up Christian, though we never went to church. My mom read me bible stories when I was little, and later when I could read on my own, that book became one of my favorites. To me, a Christian was quite simply anyone who believed that Jesus was the literal son of God and tried to emulate Him to the best of their abilities.

My mom was diagnosed with a reoccurrence of melanoma when I was 15. She had never been baptized.  It was something she wanted, but while she had a belief, a faith, she did not have a “religion”. The hospital chaplain came to our house and baptized my mom and my aunt in a non-denominational ceremony. To this day, it remains one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

There was a story that I had heard since childhood, the story of the first time my mom had cancer. She was diagnosed when she was 8 months pregnant with me and started chemo when I was 2 days old. I was a year and a half old when the doctors gave my mom 3 months to live. That day, a nurse walked in on my pop-pop while he was deep in thought. He said, “I wish God would take me instead of her.” My pop-pop had emphysema, though it was still early enough that he should have lived at least a few more years. A month afterwards, my grandmother received a phone call from the doctor, “Happy Mother’s Day. Your daughter has no signs of cancer!” Two months later, my pop-pop passed away.

I watched my mom take her last breaths a couple of months after her baptism. I held myself together, but inside I was a wreck. I thought about the story of the first cancer, and I felt immensely grateful for the 16 years that I had her in my life. But I was 16. And I was a child. And I wanted my mommy back. I needed to make sense of what had happened. And that is what started my spiritual journey.

I decided to start at the beginning, at the church I was baptized in. I moved in with my aunt and uncle after my mom died. The Lutheran church where I was christened was right down the street. I felt a little unsure the first time I went to the service. I sat by myself . . . my aunt, uncle and cousins were at the Catholic mass a few blocks away. I was probably the youngest person there by a long shot. The congregation consisted mostly of little old ladies. One of them urged me to take communion when the time came. I explained that I had never had communion. She smiled at me and after the service, introduced me to the pastor. Those little old ladies soon became friends as I took classes and my confirmation and first communion. I remember feeling so much love in that room.

After about a year in the church, I sat down to a service on the anniversary of the day Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church. My beloved pastor was not there. He had moved. I listened to the new pastor’s sermon and felt sick as all he did was bash the Catholic Church. Now, I didn’t agree with Catholicism, but I still strongly believed that all faiths should be respected. I was so turned off by this sermon that I never attended the church again.

Still, my spiritual journey continued and I searched for the next path in the road.

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13 responses to this post.

  1. What a sad but beautiful story. Sorry to hear of your family’s woes in your younger years. What a hardship for such a young one.

    Here’s a bit of my spiritual journey, from the first time we started at our current church…

    One of the first Sundays we attended was communion Sunday. When it was time for this, the congregation gathered in a circle. Pastor Cindy had a loaf of bread (not a stack of those yucky styrofoam wafers that so many churches used!) and a cup of grape juice.

    She made it clear that all were welcome there at Jeff St and invited everyone who wished to share in the cup of Life and the bread of Salvation, to please, share joyfully. And they did. The congregation, black, white, homeless, mentally ill, displaced, the children and just “regular folks” (although they are few and far between it seems) all took part.

    There was a moment where I balked. “Children can’t take part in the communion!” I thought to myself. “Why, why…” but it melted away, just like that.

    Of course, children are invited to the communion of Christ. ALL are welcome…

    Anyway, thanks for sharing part of your story.

    Reply

    • That is an awesome story!

      My uncle came to my first communion at the Lutheran church and he participated . . . but when I attended a Catholic service, I was not allowed to participate there. I’ve never quite understood that.

      I just looked it up to verify that memory was correct . . . http://www.catholic.com/library/Who_Can_Receive_Communion.asp
      It explains the Catholic reasoning, though I still don’t agree with it.

      Reply

      • Baptist churches tend to be the same way: Communion is NOT for children. NOT for unknown visitors. NOT for “lost” people.

        But I think you’d have a very hard time making a logical or biblical case for that exclusion. Which is why the “all are welcome” approach at my church was so inviting. It speaks of grace.

        Reply

  2. Posted by poolman on March 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Very touching account, Dayle. I appreciate you sharing something so personal. I will take up some of your blog here with mine. In a nutshell…

    I was raised Roman Catholic. Since my mom was Italian it just seemed to be what was expected of all good Italians. Dad was Methodist but never attended church. He left the religious education of us boys to my mom. I was baptized (sprinkled) as a baby, had godparents, went on to confirmation and regularly attended catechism. I often went to confession to confess sin.

    I remember much of the mass was in Latin and very ritualistic. Sit, kneel, stand, genuflect, holy water, sign of the cross. We learned and repeated Hail Mary’s, Our Father’s, and Acts of Contrition. It was essentially a memorization process and an outward compliance. I even went on to become an altar boy, serving at mass and benedictions. Incense and bell ringing. Helping with communion, etc. It was rather like theater.

    When I was 14, I decided I would rather not be an altar boy anymore and began to skip catechism and play basketball instead. Mass was boring and tedious and I never met God. I basically began to think it was all a scam and that smarter folks did not need this crutch. I would then only attend when visiting my grandparents or on special occasions like weddings, funerals, and holidays.

    I did not think much about God until my early 20’s when my wife, whom I had known from high school and was raised Baptist, began to relate some of her early experiences in church growing up. She had grown apart from God but had had a “born again” experience at the age of 7 while attending church. We were into drugs and partying, art and music. My concepts of the supernatural were constantly being modified and adjusted as I sought truth.

    One Easter, and while on acid, I was watching Jesus of Nazareth on TV and it really freaked me out. I had at that time studied some of the Bible and I thought the rapture was happening and I was being left behind. It was a really bad trip, but left me with a desire to learn more about Jesus and I started reading the Bible and discussing God with my wife and friends.

    Several years later, we attended a non-denominational church and after an altar call, I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I still remember His audible voice in my inner being, affirming His Lordship and forgiving me of everything I had ever done that separated me from a perfect and holy God. We both got baptized in that church and went on to become members. My 2 daughters were born and we raised them to know God and taught them the Bible, going so far to send them to school there for the first few grades until we could not afford the tuition.

    Since then it has been a journey of highs and lows. Of following Him and running from Him. Of seeking and avoiding, learning and backsliding. In all He has always been faithful, whether we were obedient or not. Slowly, over 30 plus years, I have developed a very close relationship with God.

    You see the Bible tells us how to find Him, yet He is right there waiting all along for us to stop and listen and ask Him to come reveal Himself to us. When we do, He promises to give us His spirit, The Holy Spirit, to lead us in paths of righteousness. He wants us to yield to His will, yet He never forces Himself on us. He is as close as my breath. As I seek and acknowledge Him, the relationship gets stronger and it becomes easier to know His will and hear His voice. It is always an act of my will to submit to Him.

    The Word says to believers that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. We must understand there is a god of this world that we belong to and we serve until we decide to repent and turn inward, and accept the God of the universe. Our creator who wants nothing more that for us to acknowledge Him and allow Him to show us the perfect life He has created us uniquely for. That is the path I am on. I acknowledge the Father, the Son (who is our high priest and our way to the Father), and the Spirit who testifies to my spirit, imparting wisdom and knowledge and guidance for my daily journey in this world.

    It is an awesome adventure and God is faithful. Few of us tap into the supernatural, but once you do, you never turn back. But it’s huge. I have learned so much, and haven’t scratched the surface. God is spirit. We are called to worship Him in spirit and in truth. The love is so overwhelming.

    Thanks for letting me share. 😀

    Reply

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    Reply

  4. […] I don’t agree with him on many issues. He’s a republican; I’m a democrat. He’s a conservative; I’m a liberal. He voted for George W. Bush; when the election results came in, I woke up my husband in tears and asked (seriously) if we could move to Canada. He’s Catholic; I’m, well, it’s all explained in this 5 part blog! […]

    Reply

  5. Wow….that had to have been hard at 16 😦
    I can’t even imagine

    Reply

    • It sucked. A lot. To put it really mildly.

      I will never be “thankful” for my mom’s death, but time has definitely put a different perspective on things . . . If I hadn’t of lost my mom, I wouldn’t have moved back to Philly and gone to CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts). I probably would not have gone to Rider for college . . . which means that I wouldn’t have met my ex husband . . . If I hadn’t met him, I wouldn’t have my daughter . . . and I wouldn’t trade my baby girl for anything in the whole wide world!!!

      Reply

  6. I didn’t think this comment posted the other day cause I was having problems with comments at the time!
    It’s interesting to see how bad things can lead to good later on in life….not sure what your religious standpoint is on Heaven, in general, but I believe your mom is probably looking down on you smiling at how far you’ve came! 🙂

    Reply

  7. […] Whose Success Surprised Me — The 5 part blog about my spiritual journey. It didn’t get a huge response, but there were a few who stuck through and read all of it, which […]

    Reply

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