My conversion to Catholicism is nearly complete. There is only one more Sacrament left – my fist Communion. Technically, it is not my first, as I have been taking communion for years, but not as a Catholic. And this is a big deal. It is a special confirmation service, where close family and friends attend. And it is the destination on a path that started several years ago.
After my parents died, my family shattered and splintered into shards beneath my feet, deeply cutting into my heart. Suddenly, I lost so many people in less than a year, and not all by death, but they were gone all the same. And the grief was palpable. I had been brought up that you anchor your roots in your family, because family is the most important thing in the world. I loved that life, but it was gone and neve coming back. And so for several years I was just lost. I was floating around, out there in the world, with no where to put my roots.
When your foundation in life is gone, what do you do? Where do you go to feel safe? Or for comfort? To whom do you run? Losing that much family shook me to my very core and made me question everything I had been taught. Had my parents been wrong? What if family wasn’t the most important thing? But if you couldn’t count on family, if blood meant nothing in the grand scheme of things – then what did? What was going to ground me? What was going to be the truth that I knew beyond anything else, like I knew my family to be? What was going to be the foundation on which I would build my life?
And so I found myself uprooted in every sense of the world. I struggled to find my Peace, to find comfort and love and acceptance. And when I finally worked through the grief and got back on my feet, I moved away to a new place, with a new life. But I was still searching.
And then I saw a pamphlet in my parents church papers – on the Anglican Church being in communion with the Catholic church, and how to become a part of the movement. It was as if a light had turned on and I got excited about the idea. I set an appointment to meet with the priest and discuss the process – what it meant, why, how, and if it was the right thing for me. And in my heart there was an awakening, a tiny tremble of hope as light poured in from the cracks of a broken heart. It was the feeling of fertile ground.
My faith in God had been strong through all of the trauma, as it was prayer and faith in those prayers that got me through some of the hardest moments. But I had not felt a connection to the church in a long time. My views and beliefs had not changed, but it seemed that my church had.
So when I started learning the history of the Catholic church, and why the structure and beliefs are what they are, I felt a deep sense of comfort. It was as if I had walked into a warm room after being out in the cold. To study the events and teachings as an adult is completely different than as a child – which was the last time I studied to be confirmed into a faith. And in that learning, I found the firm foundation for which I had been seeking. I found where to plant my roots. Where I could trust them to grow deep, safe in the knowledge that my faith would be kept. It is extremely liberating and comforting, to know that my parents were not wrong, just my definition of family.
And that is what this journey has meant to be – it is finding my roots again, and finding where they will grow in the rich soil of faith and love and Grace.