As a part of my Become Besotted program, each person receives a Monthly Chapter for 12 months. As a part of the monthly chapter, I include a personal story – both as a way to share my own journey and as a way to set a theme for the month. This is the February 2018 Love Note
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience”– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
I was raised Southern Baptist. When I was 22, I converted to Catholicism. I knew my mother would believe that I was going to Hell.
I promise you this month’s love note isn’t going to be about religion, but it’s one of my personal turning points of seeing that I was more than flesh and bone. That I had spiritual needs and desires that deserved to be tended – just like my body deserved to be fed.
Converting was a big deal. I was told as a small child that Catholics were evil and that they worshipped Mary. In my small Texas town, the Catholic Church was across the street from First Baptist and the preacher would tell the choir to “sing loud enough so those Catholics can hear the real Gospel.”
I knew that choosing a different religious path from my upbringing would cause future judgment and shaming and such, but I had to listen to my own needs and callings. Besides, my mother wasn’t speaking to me at the moment because my husband and I had decided to buy a new house – and she had decided we weren’t ready for a house yet. (She was a little controlling like that).
It was my final year of college. I hadn’t been to church in ages and didn’t want to go back to First Baptist. Then I found St. Maria Goretti Church. The sanctuary was beautiful and welcoming. I discovered that I could go to church any morning I wanted to go as they had an 8 AM Mass daily. My husband would go to work, I would feed our collection of animals, and stop by the Church when I wanted on my way to school.
What pulled me to the Catholic Church was the Order of the Mass and the powerful symbols the Church used. Those things not only called to me, but they comforted me.
After months of visiting a space that felt so much like home, I scheduled a counseling session with the young associate pastor. I’ll never forget Father Tom. He was a Franciscan and was the first man I had ever seen wearing leather sandals. We talked about my upbringing, the beliefs of the Church, and then he said the thing that changed how I saw myself, God, religion, and my own spirituality.
“No matter what the beliefs of the Church, remember that ultimately, your relationship with God is between YOU and HIM. It doesn’t matter what anyone else – be it person or establishment – says.”
I know that he wasn’t spouting the “party line” of the Church, but his words opened up a new phase of my life. The Catholic Church felt more like home to me than the Baptist church ever did.
Today, I am more spiritual than religious. I occasionally attend Mass and always find comfort in the structure. I look for symbols in my daily life. I light candles as prayer and with intention. I pray some. I meditate some. I feel good and solid about my personal relationship with God.
I know that I can’t separate spirituality from myself, my life, or my work.
You don’t have to believe in God or follow any religion. You don’t have to read the Bible or any other religious text. No matter what you believe in when it comes to spirituality, know that you aren’t just flesh and bone.
You have a heart and a soul, too. Just like your body needs to be tended, so does your spirit
Tending your spirit can include things like: prayer, meditation, long walks in nature, reading books that entice your mind, traveling, attending church, having sex, writing in your journal, or simply laying on a blanket under the moonlight. It can be simple acts of kindness or charity. It can take place in a building called a Church or it can take place wherever you may go.
I wanted to challenge you to dive into what your soul is calling you to do. As you feed your body, don’t forget to feed your mind. As you stretch your body, don’t forget to stretch your soul.
We aren’t just flesh and bone. We are heart and mind and soul. To only pay attention to one tiny piece of what makes us human is to neglect the other parts of ourselves.
Here’s to tending all the pieces of us.