There is a VERY interesting conversation going on over at Amalah's place. This post and this post are the two that are involved. I started to reply to her first post and realized my views are kind of difficult for me to express verbally... and... they're a lil ... odd. I'll warn you now... this is LONG.
Let me preface this with the fact that I was raised as a Roman Catholic.
I went to Catholic School from the middle of first grade through 8th grade. I was a lector and a soloist for the weekday masses and a lector for the Sunday masses as well. I went on yearly retreats to the Mother Convent and quarterly retreats with the Youth Group. I was VERY involved in my church. I also welcomed learning about other religions. MUCH to my parents dismay I would invite in the Missionaries from Church of the Latter Day Saints, Jehovah's Witness' and any others that wanted to talk about their religion. I would listen intently while they outlined their beliefs and how the standards, codes and mores of their faith were founded. I soaked it all in.
I became a teenager and then moved half way across the country with my family as a Sophomore in High School. I had to start over. I didn't LIKE the churches in the area we moved. The priests seemed to talk down to their congregation more. I didn't feel a part of things. I no longer felt connected to a church, congregation or to God, seeing as how he allowed me to be jerked out of my circle of friends, my church, my secure little world and thrown into a place where I knew no one and did NOT fit in. I still believed. I still had faith but it started to... change.
My Senior year of High School I became friends with Shannon and her sister Adrienne. Adrienne was very sick. She had cancer. She was cancer free at the time but there were no guarantees she would remain that way. Shortly after meeting her the cancer returned.
They attended a Catholic Church in town just over from mine that had a great "Folk Choir" that they both were members of. I went. I loved it. The priest in that parish talked TO his congregation ... not at. I had found my church and I loved it. I sang with the choir, I became a lector again. I basked in the feeling it gave me and the confidence I had back.
Adrienne was an integral part of obtaining that confidence. She was a nice person. She had a gentleness of spirit and concern for everyone around her. It didn't matter how much she hurt or how sick the chemo made her. She was there for anyone that needed her. She sat up all night with my father at MD Anderson Hospital the night before his exploratory surgery and after having received a chemo treatment earlier that day. She sat with him to calm him and support him and because I couldn't be there. I was finishing up my Senior year of High School at home. Ultimately, Dad was fine but he fell a little bit in love with Adrienne that night. Not in a squicky way... you know what I mean.
It sounds like I'm exaggerating her good traits. I know Adrienne had her bad days. Days where she was angry. Days where she whined. Days where nothing and no one could make her smile... but, she always cared and looked after others and filled any room she was in with this... peace and lightness. Ugh. So cliched eh? Its true though. That's how she was. She was the type of person I wanted to be but never felt I COULD be. She was the best of humanity, yet still as human as the rest of us. I learned, from her, the true meaning of faith and unconditional love and self-love.
She died of cancer a few years later.
I questioned why God would take someone like her from the world at such a young age. Wasn't she the type of person the world NEEDED? Wasn't she the type of person that could make a difference? Hadn't she already?
Hadn't she already? I had to think on that question for a long time. She had been the one pointing to the path where I realized who and how I wanted to be. She had been the catalyst for my believing in everyone having a higher purpose. She helped mold me into a better person... and then... she was gone.
I fell away from church again. Slowly, gradually, I stopped singing with the choir. I stopped lecturing at Sunday Mass. I started to wonder what the point was. I lost the path I was on and ended up in the brambles. I still believed. I still had faith but it was battered and beaten and bruised and locked in a closet for safe keeping. It peeked out over the years and was always there as a basis for many of the decisions I've made over the course of my life but it was never quite the same.
I believe in the Holy Trinity. I believe that with faith you can accomplish anything. I believe that with faith you can be a better person. I believe we all have a higher purpose, but WE will never know what that purpose is. I believe once its accomplished, we move on to our reward. I believe in ESP. I believe some people can and DO see the future at times. I do NOT believe that it is the work of the devil. I believe its a God Given Gift much like a beautiful singing voice or the ability to orate to a crowd and hold their attention as they absorb your words. It has a purpose, a reason for existing. That person has a purpose, a reason for being. I believe some people, at different times during their lives, are able to interpret "signs" and warnings of things to come. I believe in Heaven and Hell and Purgatory. I believe that some spirits still roam the Earth... searching for peace within themselves. I believe in a lot of things that others scoff and this is why:
I believe that everything happens for a reason even if I may never KNOW exactly what that reason is. Everything has a purpose. Everything makes an impact. EVERYTHING MAKES RIPPLES THAT REACH OUT AND TOUCH OTHERS. Yet, often, at critical times, I loose sight of that. I allow life to overwhelm me and make me uncertain, hopeless, angry frightened or hurt. Through it all I have a faith and a certainty that it. will. be. OK.