I burst into the kingdom of God, touching the other world at my christening as an infant. The Church, God marking me as His own to grow in the charity and grace of the triune God through Mother Church, the Roman Catholic Church in a small township in Andover, New Jersey. I took CCD classes, which I never knew stood for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine until recently. What I remember most about the classes was joking around with my friend Chris Sims who would give smart-ass answers to questions like, what is a vocation? His response: when you and your family go away to take a break from work and school.
I do remember my first communion instruction. We were taught to bow before the cross of Christ, the Blessed Sacrament and take the host in one hand which was protected by the communion-plate in case the body of Christ fell. As a child of seven years, I understood nothing except reverence toward the Almighty.
I went to Catholic school from fifth grade through tenth. I remember learning the old testament stories in sixth grade. I played trumpet from the rear balcony during offertory and receiving the Blessed Sacrament—a beautiful sound to the God I did not know. I wasn’t aware of much that was happening, simply obeying my music teacher (for three years) when to play the sweet melody.
I have never been one to acutely be aware of the present. I tend to drift here and there, picking up clues after the fact. For instance, I never knew when a girl liked me because I was acutely aware of my infatuation with another girl that the present moment was lost to me. I cannot give a specific date to when I chose Christ to be present in my life—the moment of being “saved” as Evangelicals say; all I can tell you is I asked Jesus Christ into my heart when I was a sophomore in high school. It seems in retrospect, the Lord had been present in my life all along, since my baptism as a little infant. There have been several moments of conversion—going further up and further in.
I am not just speaking of salvation. I am speaking of realizations that I was a sinner, and I needed a savior. Then periods of distance from God and then pinpointing of God’s waking me up. “Arise, O sleeper!” We are all works in progress. God nudging here, shouting over there, pain making me acutely aware of my shortfall or my need for Help—shouting Hosanna. All the work of the Holy Spirit working within—transforming.
This memoir is an attempt to share my spiritual journey. It is a journey for certain, with happy trails, dark moors, dark valleys, midnight travails, dreams, muddled and confused times, pain, grief, joy, and the mundane.
At times I am like a ruined castle waiting for the Lord to rebuild me into a mighty fortress. But it seems more apropos that God is the mighty fortress in my heart—that I must remember and seek the good. Or I am a ruined monastery that has an active cemetery on its grounds. I am broken, there are dry bones in the grounds. In my brokenness, my heart is open to the love that God bestows upon His beloved.
A child remiss of his earthly father, I have drifted in decision of living life. I am waiting for something to move once again to be filled with joy. I have sought courtly love, unrequited love, which has always left me bereft of love, made me disillusioned and cynical.
This is a tale, a journey of the broken-hearted seeking the only thing that can fulfill his heart. Ever seeking, finding, but usually doubting, retreating to the valley, and then climbing the mountain again to find myself again in the valley or even the pit. But what I have learned of the Christian journey is that we are wayfarers on a journey toward the Kingdom of God. That God is our end, the good. The triune God, who is the god of all things good, beautiful, and true. We get lost on the road. But in God’s mercy, he sends grace (Jesus Christ) to bring us back on the path toward Him. My journey, like many of ours is seeking inn after inn, hoping for respite until we find what every soul is looking for.
Ulysses or Odysseus went on a quest to find the unknown world. He paid with his life and finds himself in hell, per Dante’s Inferno. Not because he sought knowledge and truth, but because of what he paid for the journey. He left his destiny as father and husband for knowledge itself, like taking fire from the gods or the fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil. As Rod Dreher said, “What you call a courageous quest might in truth be a cowardly flight from your true destiny.” Some of my journey has been this quest of avoiding my destiny with the loving God. Our hearts truly rest in Christ.
So with my love of catholic and orthodox (including Eastern Orthodox) theology, ancient Great Books: poetry, philosophy, fiction, and non-fiction; a seeking of truth in high school in the Baptist church, then reconciling with the liturgical and sacramental church in college, I find myself in the Charismatic Episcopal Church where liturgy, sacrament, the Word, and charismatic gifting all go together. It is a harmony that is well-ordered and expands my love of God and my joy of sharing the truth, beauty, love, and goodness of our Savior.
In the waters of baptism, the Holy Spirit marked me as God’s beloved. Trauma in childhood sent me toward the cross, unbeknownst to me at the time. In high school, the journey started on the shores of Galilee, meeting Jesus. Proclaiming, “My Lord and my God.” I then ascended in my prayer life, my eyes lifted toward the hills, toward Jerusalem. Then in college I gained knowledge and wisdom of the God of the cosmos who also resided intimately with me. But temptation and confusion darkened my way, and I groped through the darkness, yet a pillar of fire led me, nonetheless. Then I fell at the foot of the cross, into the dark night of the soul. But emerged in joy that my Savior pulled me from the miry pit. But death, the great enemy, struck and threw me headlong into numbness, confusion, and cloaked anger. But I found myself on the shores of Galilee (literally) and in the city of Jerusalem renewed as this journey is apt to do. God is the restorer and the one who renews all things. This is a day-to-day process, even a minute-by-minute process, where we either choose Christ or ourselves–our egos engrossed in the world, the flesh and the devil. As I continue to learn to love God above all things and love my neighbor as myself, the Trinity helps me see the world as he does.
This is a small sketch of my life thus far. It is thirty-four years in the making. To God be the glory. May those who read this journey be illumined in God’s wisdom, truth, beauty, and goodness. For God and his goodness is our aim.