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.