When I was a kid, church was a big deal. My Mom was raised in the Baltimore Catchiest tradition…very strict. There was never any room for conversation. Mass was in Latin and those nuns..oi-vey…you didn’t dare let your attention wander. Her faith was built in fear. My Dad too was permitted very little questioning but it wasn’t because of the nuns, it was his grandmother, Sadie. Sadie was a formidable woman. Legend has it that she threw the heavy weight champion of the world from her kitchen. She hated the the Irish (which was her heritage) because the men were nothing but a bunch of drunks, and she hated the catholic church. The two went hand in hand. When the book Angela’s Ashes came out, Dad said, “This was Sadie’s life”. So when my grandfather married a Flynn girl, and started going to church, she was not a happy woman and every Sunday was a challenge. My dad’s faith was a built quietly. So as a kid, I loved going to church with my dad. My heart and eyes could wander because he was deep in prayer. With my Mum, even if I was at the opposite end of the pew, never missed a trick. If you didn’t sing when you were supposed to sing, she noticed. If you happened to scratch and itch, she noticed. Questions I had were answered by my Mum with a “Because the church says so” and my Dad, “It’s about faith dear.” I was constantly confused. And I am guessing that if my heart chakra is blocked, I still am today.
I am wondering where their faith at today. This very moment actually. My Dad’s been in the hospital for the past several weeks and we (us 6 kids) were told last night, that we needed to tell my dad that it is time to go home to hospice. Is his heart chakra blocked? I hope not.
When my Dad retired he became a groupie…a Jesuit groupie, at the Western School of Theology. He went back to school and loved every minute of it. He would smile and chuckle when I called him that. He loved learning about the scripture and meeting people from all over the world. On my last visit home, we called his dear friend Sister Cathrine, whom he met at school and lives in Ireland. I witnessed his spirits rise in a way that I thought might have disappeared. On that same visit I went to church with my Mum. I felt the solace she gathered from the service. I made sure I noted the scriptures spoken so I could share them with Dad during our hospital visit. When he became a groupie, Dad had a child like wonder about everything he was learning. He would often say “Well, your mother is very patient with me while I tell her everything that was discussed today.” I believe that she sure surely was but I also believe that my Dad’s spiritual journey had a softening touch on my Mother’s faith. It slowly dared to be one based in less on fear and more on a faith of love.
Perhaps this faith of love is what my heart needs to keep my dragons at bay. But here’s the thing, I actually, I do believe in love as a force that can really shift our hearts and minds into a kinder and gentler place. And I do believe my heart is doing that, but without sounding like a crazy person, I feel the problem is that I somehow feel so deeply the sorrows of others, that it is leading me to believe that there really is no separate self. No separate self is not a problem. It’s the wounded world we live in with all its horrors appearing all around me, that seems to be part of what is sucking the life out of me. I honestly believe that a love of compassion for all beings can be.
Krista Tippet writes, ” that somehow the possibility of care that can transform us —– love muscular and resilient—- is an echo of a reality behind reality, embedded he the creative force that gives us life.” My heart doesn’t feel muscular these days and I am wondering how my Mum and dad’s will feel when they hear the news.
I know adversity can wake you up. I know I have to find a way to meet it. I see that the scars in my heart need just to be seen. Will the passing of my father enable me to go there? Will the writing of griefs gifts provide a shift? Hmmm…maybe the possibility of care that Tippet notes goes hand in hand with McLeod’s thoughts on compassion. ” Compassion – the understanding and acceptance of the pain of the world-arises naturally. You sit there, heart broken in one way at peace with another.”
Day 2- 100 day project , 98 days to go.