Monday, December 31, 2007

my scenic route to God ~ part one

I thought I would follow-up my "a little about me" post by beginning to unpack my spiritual journey. Let me say first of all that this will take a few installments. I'm semi-committed to keeping my posts to easily-digested serving sizes and this is kind of a long, weird story. (I say "semi-committed" because I generally break most of my own rules.) So here's part one and I'll call this: Before Religion Got Me All Confused.

I'm pretty sure I knew Jesus before I knew about Jesus. When I was very, very young (maybe 3 or 4 or 5) I lived almost entirely in my head for reasons I won't go into just yet. My picture of God was not really a picture at all. It was sort of this connection to a vast presence that I carried around with me like a secret or like a frog in my pocket that I would pull out now and then to shock everyone. This presence was warm and big and utterly on my side, wholeheartedly interested in my odd internal environment. It was a presence that held me close. I've never really been much of an evangelist, but especially during this time of my life I had no interest in sharing God at all. He was MINE.

If you want to know the truth, I really miss that early relationship. I had all kinds of incredibly damaging messages in my life at that time crushing me like a little bug almost constantly, but I had this direct, uncluttered voice of God saying, "It's OK" and "I like you." I didn't have a single question about God and he didn't have a single question about me. It was great.

My family was Catholic and we went to mass every Sunday, but in my mind that didn't have anything to do with my secret friend. It was something else. The closest I came to connecting this great presence with what they were talking about in church was when my dad would take me to the Cathedral in Saint Paul to light candles for our dead relatives. There were these rows and rows of candles in deep red votives sparkling in the dimly lit hallway. My dad would let me light a candle and then he would light one and we would pray in the glowing silence together. The transcendence of that huge place filled me with so much peace and love that I almost couldn't breathe.

So, God and I were off to a really great start.


  1. Ha! I get to be first to comment. :o)

    I love hearing different people's stories about their spiritual development: not just the coming to God (though that's always intriguing too), but about how God has guided them and made Himself manifest in their lives.

    I love how you describe Him as a presence you knew and could feel before you knew who/what He was. I love how even from our beginnings, before we can articulate it or identify Him, He holds us so very, very close.

    Looking forward to the next installment ... **wink, wink**

  2. This is quite moving.
    I believe that we all carry that inner guiding voice or presence of Spirit or god. That you were open at such a young age to hearing and feeling held by it is amazing.
    I'm looking forward to hearing more in future installments.

  3. kirsten: i just stumbled on your other blog where you share about your spiritual wanderings. i haven't read very much of it but i really resonate with what i've read so far. (am i cheating on your comment disabling rule here?) anyway, i'm glad to have you listening in on this because even though we're very new friends i value what you have to say. you're one of the mirrors i want to hold this story up to.

    bella: it means a lot to me to hear that this moved you. i was reading your reflections last week about your spiritual community and the meaning of the liturgy and the "living story" and it really gave me a lot to think about. i guess you could say this is my living story. glad to have you here.

  4. I loved this post, too, Terri. It felt so tender to read. And I completely connect with knowing Jesus before you knew about Jesus. I've written before about knowing Him since before I had real consciousness about this kind of stuff. Somehow He was always just . . . there, and that was so precious to me.

    I'm really looking forward to your future installments. I can tell this is going to be a great story! And hey, you're kind of weaving a little Scheherazade action here . . . stopping the story with enough tension in play to keep us listening aptly for more.

  5. Don't kid yourself Christianne. The installment idea is stolen from you. :) I'm working on the next installment and it's shaping up to be very different from this one. It's kind of funny because to some extent I'm listening for what comes next too. I'm trying to be open to some other story emerging than what I have told in the past.

  6. Nah, Terri. Not breaking my comment-disabling rule! In fact, the look & feel & "rules" of that second blog have undergone a complete overhaul since yesterday, so feel free to stop by again & comment any ol' time you want! :o)

    And may I say WOW, I'm honored that even though we are such new friends in this space, that you would let me be witness to the unfolding of your own story here in some small way. Too, too cool.

    Again, I look forward to witnessing what emerges here, to see where you have been and where you are being led.

  7. Ha!! I wondered if I'd inspired you . . . :)

    Good for you, to be listening to the truth of the story from where you stand now. This theme is swirling around me every which way I go these days, and for now I just sit and marvel at it, before beginning to plunge into my own resorting of mine. Your bravery inspires me. I'm so glad to have found you.

  8. What a great beginning! Why do I feel as if it (your wonderful naiveté, that is) won't last?

    I still feel that way when I go into the St. Paul Cathedral, but I don't have any history - or baggage - in Catholicism.

    Looking forward to reading more...

  9. Kirsten and Christianne: God I love you guys.

    Tom: Wow, you must be some kind of prophet or something. ;)

    And I still feel that way in the Cathedral too, baggage and all. It's about a mile from my house so whenever I want I can go light a candle and remember my dead.

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  11. Errrr...the comment about usually breaking your own rules. I can relate to that! I miss you Terri! Great blog!