Friday, April 8, 2011

The Search

When did the search start? Why did I search?

There must be something inside of me that caused me to question. I didn't ask for the silent stirrings inside of me. I longed to feel the peace that I saw around me. The voice, with the questions, could not be quieted...I finally raised my hand.

Instead of an answer, I was sent directly to Sister Dominica's office. Shamed in front of the other students, I headed down that narrow hall. After a meaningless lecture (I was about ten years old) I was sent off to kneel and told to say 10 Hail Marys and 10 Our Fathers...something I was told to do, quite often.... Was this the answer to my question?

I was born and raised Catholic. I actually loved the church, loved the alter and loved watching the nuns parade to and from their seats. Loved the candles, loved kneeling...but something was missing.

There were never any answers. The mass was in Latin. Even at this young age, the sermon left me with more questions, and the contradictions filled my mind. And...thinking to myself that even these thoughts must be sinful. So here I was, at 10, leading a sinful life, filled with guilt, and...doomed to hell!

I was never told to read the bible, never taught much about the bible, the mass was in Latin, no Sunday school, but tons of rules, and oooh gosh...I just kept sinning, and confessing. I ate meat on a Friday. Told my mom, "no". Didn't say a prayer before supper.

Sure enough...10 Hail Marys, 10 Our Fathers.

Mom and dad got a divorce. Mom took us to Unity. WoW! What a change this was! Now God was love! Same God, different God? Same bible, different bible??? Sunday school...I was coloring pictures of Jesus now, and hearing wonderful stories of a wonderful, loving Father.... Mom took us to Unity one Sunday, Dad took us to Catholic Church the next. I got even more confused, had even more questions and for goodness sake, now I was sinning because I was going to church with mom!!!

In my twenty's it was "game on". I started going to different churches. I'd stay for awhile, but then it always ended the same. What I was beginning to realize at this point, was that God was presented differently at each of the churches. It seemed to me that God was being created in our image, rather than us being created in His. I was so frustrated.

In my mid 20's, I went to my first astrologer. How did she know that I was on an in intense spiritual search? aah...maybe it's my Sag Moon and Sag Sun in the 8th house for starters. This was when I started looking to alternative beliefs. OOoooh my...there were other people, out there, searching for answers, just like me!!! I read and read and read. I read everything. I was finally learning... finally getting some answers... I really got hooked on the different Native American beliefs. Studied this and other earth based ways for years and years.

During this time, I learned of colors, numbers, different incense, totems, fetishes, and felt the earth move into the different seasons, and celebrated this... As I bought books on this and that...I'd pick up a book on Buddhism. Then, maybe a book or two on meditation. Then maybe a Zen book. Added to my collection, books written by HH Dalai Lama.

After my husband died, 1999, my sister and I were talking. She is still a devout Catholic...anyway, she questioned why I was so consumed by this search and why I had ventured so deeply into (her thoughts here) different cults. She offered this advice to me. She said that one of her teachers said that there was a reason we are born to a certain religious tradition.

That spring, I took off for a two week camping trip. I went by myself, wanted/needed time to ponder the changes in my life. Death of my husband, another career change, my boys were grown, being alone... While I was on this camping trip, I thought about my sister's advice. I went to confession...the first time in 27 years. Forgive me Father for I have sinned. My last confession was 27 years ago... You guessed this, I'm sure...10 Hail Marys and 10 Our Fathers......

I signed up for RCIA classes that fall. From September till Easter, I relearned the Catholic church. After the class, I went to mass on a regular basis. Then one day...I just couldn't do it any more. I wasn't happy. I sat in the pew, I saw the contradictions, I felt myself fill with guilt, and knew that in this tradition...I was sinning again. I would have my thoughts, feel guilty, confess, do the required "10 and 10" and it would start all over again. I was miserable.

I desperately needed to quiet the chatter in my brain. One day, I reread one of my books on meditation. I saw in the newspaper that the Rime Buddhist Center offered a free meditation class. The minute I walked into the center, I felt at home. I took more classes and started attending the Sunday practice. I felt a calm that I had never felt before. I'd meditate, read and take classes. When I read this quote, I knew I had found what I was looking for.

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. "Buddha

So far, it has brought me much peace and such a calm. I'm learning to simply live in the now. To be in the present. To become awake... And, there is no guilt. I love the fact that it's called "practice". I'll finish this post by adding that in looking back at all the churches I've gone to, to all the traditions that I've studied...I see the beauty and love them all. I'm glad my sister is happy in Catholicism, I'm glad if a friend is happy in a Baptist church, I'm glad if my Native friends are happy with their beliefs and ceremonies, I just want peace and happiness for all....



Debra She Who Seeks said...

Thank you for this beautiful post! I agree that there is often "a reason we are born to a certain religious tradition." And that reason is to grow and leave it. It takes spiritual courage and maturity to find what truly resonates with you personally.

Linda Myers said...

Great post. I did the same searching and found my peace in the 12 steps of the various recovery programs. I'm absolutely certain there are many paths to God and that "the kingdom of God is within us." Bye, bye, contradictions.

Out on the prairie said...

We each find a niche to offer us solace. I am like you, having tried them all. I get the most from being part of it all combined.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I have found a variety of religious and spiritual experiences have shaped my life. Thank you for sharing those that have shaped yours and what has become a spiritual home for you. I find much good in the teachings of Buddhism.

turquoisemoon said...

Debra, Yes, it does take spiritual courage. I'm amazed at all those that have this courage. It's very scary especially when you think you're the only one. Can you imagine living during the "Burning Times"? and having questions?
Linda, I'm so glad you found your peace within the 12 steps recovery program. Wonderful and extremely spiritual.
Steve, You know...I really loved them all and learned from them all. It just wasn't a fit for me. I just wonder how many of us are out there. I've read stats on how many attend various churches, but have never read any on those that go on spiritual searches.
Teresa, Yes...these experiences have really shaped our lives. Taken us places and given us thoughts we never thought we'd go... The search for peace, the search for solace, the search for purpose...

Linda Starr said...

Raised a Catholic I asked in the 7th grade to Sister Mary Rene why God let children who died before being baptized go to limbo indefinitely, there was no plausible answer. I rejected that religion and other organized religions since that time. I did enjoy the Latin since it taught me the root words of language; I liked the singing in the church and the chanting; and the ritual of kneeling and standing, meditations, although I never knew them as meditations at the time. Too many times in life I've come across self proclaimed religious folk doing wrongs to others, confessing, and doing wrong to their fellow man again. Not that all religions are necessarily bad, I think some folks need that framework and organization in their lives.

I love the quote you posted by Buddha; I've been plodding along ever since.

Kittie Howard said...

Lynn, all of your posts are great, but I truly loved this one to pieces. Actually, I'm typing after a break to think - I still haven't resolved if people are born into a religion or people are born into a culture that subscribes to a particular religion. Don't know if I'll ever resolve this...need some behavorial anthro courses.

I think the search for inner peace involves letting go of a certain guilt for not believing what others believe and what one was taught to believe.

Because my grandmother so inflicted her Catholicism on my father, he celebrated the day the Catholic Church excommunicated him for becoming a Mason. Even more, he kept his kids at arm's length from religion, what others thought wrong and what I applaud him for. I've never felt confined to a religious strait jacket.

I personally think Buddhism is as pure as it gets. When life gets stressful - of if it's a beautiful day I want to appreciate more - I pull from the shelf one of the books I have about Buddhism.

turquoisemoon said...

Linda, I could ramble on & on about the lies, contradictions, condemnations of the Catholic church. I remember when I first heard about the unbaptised babies being sent to purgatory...what about this one...My local priest would not baptise my son, when he was a baby, because I had doubts/questions...
Kittie, Gosh your father was brave. Going against the church, facing eternal hell... And...I really wonder what the reason (the reeel reason) the church is so against the Masons??? I can remember when mom and dad got a divorce and the church wanted them to not recognize the marriage (they got married in front of a JP rather than the church) Gosh!!! did they even consider what that would have done to us kids??? back in those days??? humpf!

Manzanita said...

I don't know how I missed this. Too involved in the A-Z challenge, I guess. It's a a most insightful post and I can relate to it, as I'm sure there are many others who do. I was Buddhist for a few years too. I wandered my way through spiritual paths , joined eckankar for a short time and have recently ended there again. All I believe in now is reincarnation and I've tasted some proof of that pudding. This is such a wonderful post. Thank you for your thoughts.

Sandy Jorgensen said...

great post Lynn! (from a Catholic girl who still likes the way the church decorates) So many paths and at the end of the road, it's all about Love I suppose.

Purplebears said...

Thanks for sharing from your heart. My mom was a lapsed Catholic, which was really a blessing to me because I've been able to take what I like from the Catholic Church and leave the rest. Take what I like from Unity, my yoga, and buddhism and use it all to make me a more loving, compassionate person. For in the end, it all comes down to Love. (Now, I just looked up and saw the last comment ended the same way!) Great minds think alike.

Kelli Thomas said...

I finally found the time to make my way to your blog. I wish I had done it sooner. You've written so many wonderful, inspiring messages on mine. Now I can get to know the woman behind those messages. We have a great deal in common, besides just the Collector's Guide to New Mexico!

I loved this post. It resonates deeply with me. Recently I was thinking of moving to another part of the state to be closer with my mother who has found religion over the last few years in a small town Baptist Church. While I am happy for her and the ones around her who embrace the teachings of that particular church, I never left her church feeling uplifted and happy, but left feeling as if I was sinning and doing something wrong. That's the very reason I shied away from organized religion for so many years.

In fact, her beliefs are so different from mine now that I have decided it might be best for my daughter and me to find our own path in another state, Colorado, where maybe the way of thinking is a bit more open in some areas.

Thanks again, and I look forward to reading more.


turquoisemoon said...

Ooh it! Head for Colorado. I sure wish I'd done that years and years ago. I long for the mountains... But, now I have a home, BF, children, grandchildren, family and friends in Kansas...guess at my age, I'd better stay put. Humpf!!! But, you're young and it!!!