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and the Art of Slowing it Down
Jesus is just alright with ME
January 28, 2011Posted by on
I think it’s been a long journey… and I am at the point where I don’t know what I believe anymore! Thankfully the journey isn’t over. Here’s how it started: I was raised Catholic and went to church and CCD regularly growing up. In High School I affiliated myself with religious youth groups both inside and outside the church and went to church on a regular basis – often mid-week, to pray the rosary, with my “Friends”. In college I attended Sunday mass, Alone, and maintained close friendships with fellow Christians both near and far. I always looked forward to going to church around the Major Holidays: Christmas and Easter, but don’t any longer… I can barely recite Catholic prayers, anymore. The Lord’s Prayer is FINE with ME but most of the others I don’t support and believe it would be blasphemous to recite.
I think my loss of faith in the Catholic Church coincided with the loss of my ruby cross in NYC, shortly after running half of the marathon in 1999…
After graduating college I took ballet classes in mid-town near Carnegie Hall. I was looking for something that would give me (physical) grace. I had been known to be rather clumsy; like a ‘bull in a china shop’… always cutting myself in architecture school but couldn’t handle being the fattest girl in class. That’s when I found yoga. I started practicing Kundalini yoga and questioning my faith; specifically my faith in Jesus.
Let me be clear: Yoga didn’t stop me from attending mass at St. Paul the Apostle near Lincoln Center… (Paulist’s, as I understand them, are most contemporary in their faith; believing in a universal God.) Their priest, at that time was young and, used to do funny things like make the congregation sing “Take me out to the ball game” or talk about different religions.
It was a most I-opening experience; and I trust that it along side my amalgamation of yoga practices steered me away from the Catholic Church. At that time I remember reading a great deal about Buddhism and Hinduism… and believed that my asana’s were prayer. And not dissimilar to High School, I used to get up often before the sun rose to chant with a group of like-minded Lower East Side New Yorker’s. I befriended nearly none of them but was happy to pray with them. (A similar story holds true when I lived in DC. I frequented a Vipasana Meditation group.)
But those days were a long time ago and has little to do with what I am experiencing 2day. I don’t know what’s going on for sure, I am not “practicing” Yoga but I am trying to live a yogic life, but I can tell you that I agree with the song; “Jesus – he’s my friend”. And believe he led me to my husband and his family. You see: I have dated, not in this order, Christians, Agnostics, Atheists, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jew – considered converting to Judaism – but married a Hindu.
My husband’s parents are stout Hindu’s – paying homage to their Gods every morning, after showering and before eating. His mother goes to temple on Tuesday and fasts regularly on different auspicious occasions. (My parent’s faith is not so dissimilar but they don’t follow such visible daily rituals. For example, I don’t know when they pray but know that they do. Catholicism is much less demonstrative – or at least it was/ is in our house. I think the first cross my parents showcased in their house, outside their bedroom, was a cross that I bought them in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico while on vacation with my future jewish in-laws, or so I thought was possible at that time.)
So what does the title of this post have to do with my disorder? Everything!!!!! As I believe that my manic moments have been HIGHly religious experiences. That’s why I enjoyed them as much as I did. They were experiences that exhibit me being totally immersed in the spirit and connected with the Universe… moments when I find meaning around every corner; in every logo and symbol… in numbers, colors and words – in what people are wearing in what roads they choose to travel…
What do I mean? It can be a simple confirmation, i.e. someone handing me an ‘everything’ bagel because I think, during those times that, everything is related or as difficult as thinking Matt Lauer in his purple shirt is trying to get a message to ME or my conspirators. In highly psychotic moments I believe that I am tapped into the Universe and on my way to discovering secrets that lie deep beneath the things we take for granted.
At heart, I do believe that EVERYTHING is related but have recognized that I trap myself during manic moments believing that there is some great conspiracy unfolding before my eyes; that the mysteries of law and politics and the nature of the universe will be revealed to me. Yes, to me… but also to everybody/ anybody else that is paying attention to the details.
My last hospitalization (February 2007) really broke my heart. I think it was then that I first questioned (when the whole thing was over) if there was a God. Having just moved to LV and having no network to back me up – I continued questioning long after my psychotic thoughts subsided. At the time I maintained some semblance of a physical spiritual practice but it was becoming more of an exercise. I wasn’t attending classes – I couldn’t afford classes and my home practice was just okay – diluted without fellow worshippers.
The fact that my husband doesn’t really believe in God effects me. While we were dating it was of some concern that he had little faith but I found that he embodied much of what I had spent most of my spiritual life searching for – so it was OKAY that we didn’t see eye to eye. I respected him and he respected ME.
Before, formally, meeting his parents I wrote them a letter introducing myself. I wrote: “I have read about Hinduism and the Indian culture over the years and have learned that I share the view that marriage is a sacrament – a merging of two families, I too believe in karma – that every action, thought, or decision one makes has consequences and I believe in reincarnation. My family, Catholics, do not share all of these values but they respect how I have grown as a result of my expanded experiences and admire that I have made them my own.”
That said, I have a great deal to learn about Hinduism. I have a great deal to learn before I can call myself Hindu; let alone a Brahmin. (My husband thinks that I am Brahmin because I married him but, today, I only think that that’s probable in a past life…)
Nonetheless, we are raising our son Hindu (we gave him a Hindu name)… and that’s kinda scary; as I need to learn it’s tenants so that I can reinforce it’s lessons. I know symbolically that they believe “We are One” and are against killing but the rest is rather fuzzy, technically speaking. (Every time I read a passage about Hinduism, I am given so much background/ history that my head spins… That said, I remember answering my husband, when he asked a short while ago: “How would raising our children Hindu make your family feel?”, that I was much more comfortable with the blind faith that I had in Hinduism [mind you, I can not speak Hindi nor begin to understand Sanskrit] than I had in the Catholic Church.)
At the end of the day, I am not saying One path is right and One is wrong. I don’t know where I will go from HERE to get at the foundation of my beliefs but I want my children to be able to figure out for themselves what they believe. And for that I need to be able to honestly answer some very heavy-duty questions. I can only hope that, before they can formulate those questions that, I regain an understanding of my faith before they are too old to know that Mommy is winging it.
In all fairness, I need to revisit the Catholic Sacraments. It’s my friendship with Jesus after all that led me to where I am today. And where I am (or how I got here); I wouldn’t change it for the world!