Catholics and Other Creatures

Catholics and Other Creatures

Get to source.

It’s the first in my list of 10 little rules for a blissy life, the guiding mantra that underpins the rest of the philosophy.

And still, I forget.

I was raised Roman Catholic, in an Irish-German family that put tradition and duty above personal fulfillment or enlightenment. Not that there wasn’t love; it was just that this love seemed to me to be highly dependent on “doing the right things.”

In church, I would see parishioners who seemed so devout, so in touch with their God, and I’d wonder why I didn’t feel that. In fact, I struggled to feel it, longed for it.

When I married my first husband, a non-believer, it was easy to back away from the Church and its teachings, giving up on ever finding that connection. This was during a time when the magnitude of abuse by Catholic priests was first coming to light, so there was even a solid basis for a certain amount of moral “rightness” in my decision not to believe.

Still, I was married in the church, baptized my daughters as Catholics, proudly sat by as they were confirmed, and now watch proudly as they make their own spiritual decisions – one remains Catholic while another is a youth pastor in another denomination. Both choices are fine by me – as long as they are finding their source, from wherever theirs springs, I’m at peace with what they choose.

For me, I began to finally feel connected to my Source several years ago when I began to meditate. I realized that this is simply another way to describe what I was raised to believe was prayer – with one key difference. Instead of speaking to some separate entity, petitioning the saints and the holy ones for intercessions, in meditation I connect with most internal being. Semantics, to a large degree, this idea of connecting with source.

When I found this connection, my life altered in ways that could be defined as miraculous in religious terms. And that power to alter circumstances by altering my perceptions continues.

So why is it so easy to forget to do this? What explains my tendency to wait until the wheels fall off in some way before I reconnect with my innermost nature? That’s the million dollar question.

Last week was a challenge. I spent several days in New York with my parents at their senior living community. It was good to see them and have this length of time with them, but being with them is difficult on a lot of levels.

For one, they are both struggling with some debilitating cognitive issues, so conversation and everyday tasks demand an incredible amount of patience and focus. And my dad has some physical limitations that slow normal life down to a mind-numbingly slow pace. Still, we had some laughs, met some of their friends, and I found a stronger compassion for them than previous. And when Mom wandered off in Target, leaving Dad in his scooter on the verge of panic, I was able to breathe, focus and deal with the situation calmly and easily.

Where does getting to source come into all of this? Frankly, if I hadn’t been meditation and doing yoga during my visit, I would have lost patience, gotten angry, escalated the potential minefields into explosions, and basically made everyone – self most of all – miserable.

At the end of the week, they were supposed to fly down south with me for a week on the beach. The idea was too much for them, and it became quite apparent the night before the flight that it wasn’t going to happen. So I flew down on my own, where John was waiting for me at the airport.

I was so sad. Sad that they couldn’t enjoy the beach, sad that their traveling days are clearly over, missing the people they were just a few years ago, when they flew to Hawaii for an island cruise and had a level of independence they’ll never experience again.

Having intentionally gotten closer to source through the week, I was able to feel that sadness for what it was – a reflection of the love I had for these people, and my wishes for their happiness. It didn’t take me under or make me miserable. I was able to truly feel that sadness and still know it wasn’t going to take me down.

When we are connected with source – whether that’s in meditation, prayer, a long walk on the beach, however that shows up for us – we can feel those emotions and know they aren’t bottomless. We can be sad, happy, anxious, scared, elated – and feel them, recognized them, and choose how to act on them.

The work of being human begins with recognizing that we aren’t just human at all, that there is an inescapable spiritual side to every one of us. Connecting to that realization is the ultimate source of peace.


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