YLRP SunnyIf you follow Bud’s Blog, you know that I am on retreat this weekend.   Twice a year, I travel with a group of men to a retreat center in Southern California for a weekend of fellowship, fun and spirituality.  In our diverse group of guys, these can be particularly odd bedfellows, with off-color humor and cigars as common as tears and discussions about God’s will.  But without these retreats, I’d likely still be a reluctant agnostic instead of a believer.  I can identify the specific moment at which the change occurred.  Two years ago, I had reached the point where I’d made the decision to believe in God.  That was no small feat for a man with an Inner Rational Scientist demanding proof.  I would often describe myself as a Recovered Catholic, since I’d left the faith on less than good terms.  While our retreat was at the beautiful San Lorenzo Retreat Center, I’d spent some time one of the Franciscan fathers there, talking about my bitterness toward the church.  He was very compassionate and very helpful but I still felt that Recovered best described my relationship with the religion of my childhood.

At a Saturday night meeting, I’d shared about my new found minimalist faith, a belief in a God that entails no knowledge of how that God works in the world.  Afterwards, a well-meaning young man assured me that if I kept working the program, I’d find a more complete faith.  At the same time, someone else implied that my level of spirituality wasn’t adequate to be a sponsor.  At the closing meeting, always on the subject of Spirituality, I had a meltdown.  The predominant reaction afterwards was, What was Bud talking about?  I’m not sure I could tell you.  I know I was angry and tired of those who had a more conventional faith disparaging my efforts, even though I know they meant well.  And I know I went on about it for about five minutes.  Passionately.  About a week later, I had this thought: When I say I am a Recovered Catholic, that feels to a Catholic exactly as it did when my well-meaning friend suggested my spirituality wasn’t good enough.  Something inside went, Click, and I no longer cared what my well-meaning friends thought.

There is one member of our group, our most fervent Catholic, who has sometimes incurred my ire for bringing his particular religion into our meetings.  Over the years, he has made crosses, large and small, for the retreat centers, something I found mildly annoying.  At last year’s retreat, he broughtcross a rough brass cross he’d made to the Spirituality meeting and asked if anyone wanted it.  After an uncomfortable silence, I said, I do.  He smiled, given our history.  The cross lives on my office shelf, a reminder not only that I should respect the beliefs of others but that I am no longer at odds with the religion of my childhood.  I haven’t Recovered, I’ve just chosen something else.  And I’m at peace with that.

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One Comment on “Peace”

  1. territerri Says:

    Whenever you talk about your spiritual journey, you give me hope. I see a bit of myself in what you describe about yourself. I’ve felt my faith slipping away over the past few years and for various reasons over the past few days, I’ve felt … not sure how to describe it…. almost an acknowledgement that my disbelief is stronger than my belief. But maybe, as you’ve described, my disbelief is more about the Catholic teachings that have been a big part of my life and not about God in general. There’s a huge part of me that is afraid NOT to believe what I’ve been taught. But I’m so disillusioned with the Catholic faith that I can’t just “get back there.” Maybe I now need to give myself permission to have a faith that differs from the Catholic design. I don’t want to be without faith completely.

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