In honor of Good Friday (which occurred yesterday), I wanted to write a little bit about the surreal experience I had revisiting my childhood church.
I am not religious by any means. But growing up, I attended Roman Catholic church. I think it's quite normal for kids to hate going to church -- for my case and for many, it's boring, quiet, I'm sitting next to strangers who I'm eyeing carefully behind my mother's shoulder for the slightest cough or sniffle they might have, so that during the dreaded "sign of peace" portion of mass, we intermingle extra long in our family unit so that we don't have to shake those peoples' hands. And why on earth does it have to be so early in the morning? I could be sleeping! I mumble the prayers and responses because I'm supposed to, but I don't know why. It's devoid of meaning, of depth, and yet I'm supposed to act this way, and this makes me holy and loved by God somehow??? And on and on.
Yet as I step into the vastness of the church, I'm overtaken by a sense of awe and great love. As it has become ever since I began on the healer's path, now when I'm in any holy place, I'm sensitive to the vibrations and the energy there. I can't fully see auras yet but I don't need to. Immediately I look to the central altar and the large image of Jesus and it's shimmering with light.
Back in my childhood, we always sat in the back. "To beat the crowd." We always drove in the back way of the parking lot and parked as far away from the entrance as possible for an easy getaway. It always drove me crazy.
Now, I walk straight up the center aisle and sit face-to-face with God. I can't help but want to be close, to go up front, and experience as deeply, intimately, as I can.
It was all so surreal. After the initial wave of divine love sweeps down my Crown and spreads throughout my aura and captures me in a glorious, full-body chills sensation, I'm able to inhale deeply and exhale a breath of deep, profound gratitude. Gratitude that more than ever before, more than I ever could have hoped for or imagined in my lifetime, I can feel and experience god within. And not only within; as I pray, aloud or a whisper, or silently, as I bare my heart open I hear messages of response. I remember praying as a child and thinking, hoping, that I would hear an actual voice clearly in my ear or at the very least in my head. That never happened. For me, and again for many, it happens much more quietly as a stirring in the heart, or a sense of love or comfort that's beyond words. It's so quiet that unless we're still enough, we miss the message entirely.
Now, I know this. Now, I listen. And now, I hear, I feel, and I know, when I'm answered.
Instantly, constantly, flashes were happening. All the memories of going to church, and the experiences and perceptions I had. Of staring up at the ceiling, how I would note the patterns, the curve of the ceiling beams, the colors of the wood and marbling of the stone. The light shining through the stained glass windows. The images of the saints and angels. It seemed important, it seemed profound, and I didn't know. Happening in that present moment, I was staring at these same objects, these surroundings, and simultaneously remembering what I thought/saw in the past and now the present. I could see, and I could change the perceptions at will. I could loop in and out of time. I could superimpose thoughts and perceptions, together, one or the other.
Plus, the emotions I was feeling, of profound gratitude and love from God within and around me and all of the ALIVE love vibrations and reverence offered from everyone having been in that space, ahh!!! Amazing. I couldn't help but smile from the childlike wonder, that I couldn't even feel as a child! Then I smile more from... smiling! From the corner of my mind, my childhood self is looking at me perplexed as if to say, You're crazy.
Then I loop in and out of the feeling and mental inquiry of, why couldn't I feel this as a child? Because we're not taught how to feel. We're taught how to act, how to behave, what to say. But how on earth can we foster a sense of wonder, awe, and honor in God unless we cultivate that capacity in ourselves?
It has taken me YEARS to open my Heart. And even after opening a center of awareness (or a chakra), it takes practice to continue operating at that level until it becomes inherent. Even when this is achieved, there's more work to be done, because life is still happening. We have to continue to move forward even when we're healing old wounds or examining old behaviors, while trying to not let our brains get in the way... or the psyche, or socially and culturally imposed behaviors, attitudes and perceptions, on and on the list of possible, probable, and futile blame goes.
I digress... the point of all that is, I had to learn what it was to LOVE in the first place, before I could truly understand God's love. And understand that God is within.
Then with another exhale, of understanding and of some sadness, I looked up at the beautiful altar before me, in admiration and sadness, thinking: If we put as much effort into developing our inner temples, our inner selves, as we do our outer temples and altars, just imagine how beautiful and brilliant our world would be!
Memories help trigger these points of awareness and exploration. The desire to change comes from within.
I've moved back to my home town, my physical place of infancy, childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. Now I return as an adult; what an amazing evolution I can see spread before me, while still being present. Wow.
I stand up, I bow thank-you and good-bye to the divine beings in my midst. Knowing that the presence never really leaves -- it's just our sense of awareness of them that fades. So these beautiful churches, these temples, these places of worship ... may they remain, may they be an outward manifestation of the devotion we give to our inner selves, our spirit, our divinity.
Peace, Blessed Be, Namaste, Sat Nam, Aho, Ashe, Shalom, And so it is.