Our Good Friday service this year was a Tenebrae with a twist. We asked friends and members to share stories from the cross, using the 7 last words of Christ as a guide. Some of our speakers have agreed to share their stories here on the blog, to kick off our Stories of Faith blog series.
As a very young person I thirsted for answers. I liked real, practical, tangible answers. Protocols. Procedures. Plans.
The idea that anything was ever accomplished by trial and error rather than procedure never crossed my mind.
I thirsted for answers in a world that was happy to provide them, so long as I was wiling to accept the answers that they gave.
When I was about five I figured out, using nothing but my own brain,
I remember going to my mom with so much excitement because I figured out this secret. My mom did not try to convince me she just said, don’t tell your brother and sister.
Knowing Santa’s secret did not diminish my love for Christmas or even Santa, but it was easier to know that it was a story than to try to figure out how it worked. I had an answer for Santa.
Growing up I attended several churches, but none I loved more than my family’s home perish, St. Jean’s. It was a beautiful building with very french architecture, and a crucifix at the door that still appears in my nightmares though the church shut down.
Because of my dad’s love of football, we typically attended mass on Saturday afternoon. I looked forward to it all week.
I loved being catholic.
I would say that when I was about 13 years old, being catholic defined about half of my identity.
I loved our church. I loved the smells, the songs, and felt accomplished when I could finally recite the prayers without looking.
And I believed.
I believed so hard, that when I was singing, I often imagined the ceiling opening up and a light shining down on me, just like in the Blues Brothers.
But… Something changed.
At some point being catholic no longer defined me. At some point the incense and the same old songs were not as meaningful, and some of the language in the prayers started to bother me.
At some point I started telling people I was a humanist.
At some point I started telling people I was an atheist.
and yet… I’ve had an ongoing conversation with God my entire life. I would laugh at myself when I would matter of factly say “I’m an atheist” and then find myself praying, silently, a few hours later.
I never hated religion. Knowing my own lack of faith did not diminish my love for church even though I did not go very often, but, like Santa Claus, it was easier to know that it was a story than to try to figure out how it worked. I had an answer: faith gives people comfort, and that is ok.
I was quenching my thirst for answers. Real, practical, tangible answers.
But… something changed.
I came here.
The songs and the prayers were familiar. The people were kind and welcoming and even pretty fun. But something that I never expected happened.
The first thing that struck me was that while the liturgy was comfortable, the theology was not. I felt tense and challenged by the sermon, bible study, and conversations with members.
My thirst for answers started to change too. I started to ask questions, and instead of finding answers I let those questions sit in my head and become more questions.
It was the Monday after pentecost and I felt…called…to participate in civil disobedience at one of the Moral Mondays protests. Maybe it was not as dramatic as what I imagined the ceiling at St Jean’s opening up would look like, but on that Monday after pentecost I was sitting in the street in joyous rebellion with other protestors, when suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire street where we were sitting. Who I was ceased to exist and I became a part of something bigger.
That day I felt no comfort and I was left with so many questions.
Since that day I feel more empowered.
I thirst for things that test my comfort
I thirst for questions rather than answers.
I’ve accepted that my faith can be one where I thirst and my thirst may never be quenched but that thirst guides me and gives me permission.
It makes me stronger and somehow more venerable.
It defines my identity.
While I no longer look for the ceiling to open up, and the light to shine down, I see God in every person I meet. I am struck by the beauty and uncertainty of creation. I thirst for questions and I question answers.