Saturday, May 27, 2006
the holy rosary cathedral
I still don't know much about catholicism, but as my mind stretches I'm getting used to looking at things from new perspectives, and I'm starting to see catholicism differently. My research into mysticism and gnosticism keeps bringing me back to the catholic church, and I'm learning that there's a beautiful symbolism and a focus on experiential relationship with God. Granted, I could probably never sit through a service, being the fidgety human that I am, but I will say that any time I have ventured into a catholic church I have felt God's presence in a way that both surprised me and evoked reverence.
Here in Regina we have a neighborhood called "Cathedral" and it is named after a ginormous cathedral located in the artsy section of town. Today was the cathedral village arts festal, and on a whim I decided to drop in and check it out. I was feeling down, and the crowd of humans milling about the booths and on the street wasn't helping. Crowds always instill me with a distinct sense of alienation and aloneness. I avoid crowded places like the plague, indeed, I seldom leave my house for anything other than work and the park.
Just as I felt I would drown in my own solitude, I spotted a human letting himself into the cathedral. Without really thinking about it, I climbed the stairs and slipped through the doors.
For a moment the church was filled with the sound of buskers outside and the yammering of the crowd, and then the door swung shut, and the noise was muffled, aside from two humans quietly chatting in one of the aisles. As I moved from the foyer into the sanctuary, I felt the familiar indescribable feeling, and then I did something for the first time in my life.
I made my way to the front of the church, and off to the side where there were candles, and then I lit one. At first I thought that the flame would die, and I watched in suspence as it climbed down the wick, sputtered, and grew, and I felt my hope grow with it. I looked up at a statue of mary with her arms spread as though beckoning me to her comfort, and then I was crying.
It's a funny thing. The more I learn, the more I prefer to huddle under the umbrella of christian mysticism. But in reality, the mystic experience is precisely the thing that has been lacking in my life. This lack greatly contributed to the journey I'm currently on.
I would consider today to be my initiation into the mystic journey. There's something about Jesus that evokes a response, even when I'm not really sure of who He is. A statue of the buddha, after all, does not evoke tears for me. My experience with Jesus is that amidst my questions, he reaches into that very hidden, very secret place, and draws out tears.
I sat for a long time in the second pew staring at a stained glass skylight. I told God that I knew what I wanted, but I would happily recieve that which He knew I needed.
So. That's that. On the way home I picked up a couple books at the used book store. A copy of the Qu'ran, and a book about feng shui. I am currently sitting in a sty of a house, posting on my blog instead of the housework that desperately needs doing.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Grace takes on meaning. Extravagant love, undeserved forgiveness. Not so extravagant when preceded by conditions, not so undeserved if you spend your lifetime trying to measure up. Not unconditional if it depends on your response.
I mean, would Jesus really go through all that He did only to say, "whoops, you didn't believe the diseased-blanket-bearing-buffalo-exterminating white man, I guess you're off to hell!" Would He? Is that consistent with His character? Does He build a bridge in the wilderness and then restrict passage to the few who can say how it came to be built?
Yet I keep coming up against Paul. I'm developing quite a distaste for Paul, as a matter of fact. He wrote so much of the stuff on which we base our theology, and yet I see him as an opinionated guy writing letters.... not necessarily the be all and end all of Godly wisdom, and maybe even missing the point on certain topics.
So.... what must I do to be saved?? Jesus had a number of different answers to that question, and Paul just kept repeating something totally different. Part of me wants to disregard Paul altogether, but that doesn't seem balanced either.
Recently I remembered this one very well known bit of scripture, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord" and it made me laugh to myself. Why? Because according to my upbringing, the wages of sin is eternal torment in the pit of hell. How did I never see that? To the very short list of things I can say that I believe, I have added the non-existence of hell.
It feels good to have a belief, even if it is a belief that would put me in a precarious position with just about everyone in my life.