I’ve been staring at the “Add New Post” screen for a while, wondering what it is that I want to say in this space today. I struggle sometimes with feeling that this space doesn’t reflect the positives that I’m feeling in this journey towards Catholicism, but only the negatives. And the truth is there are both – positives and negatives. I’ve intended this week to write something a bit more lighthearted, but as I’ve been sitting and reflecting, I’ve recognized that that isn’t the space my thoughts are occupying this week.
I’m part-way through a staycation of sorts, having taken over the duplex of some family members while they’re on holidays in another province. I’ve spent a lot of hours
in the past few days on the couch in their living room, enjoying the natural light from the big front windows, and thinking, reading, resting and praying.
The truth is, I’m grieving a little bit this week. With every step forward I feel the pangs of what I’m leaving behind.
Several of the books I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to talk of the journey into Catholicism (especially from a protestant background such as my own) as “Coming Home”. If I’m honest, I have to say that I kind of hate that phrase.
Home has certain connotations for me – family, belonging, familiarity – all the things I’m leaving behind to enter the Catholic church. And it’s not just my family dynamics that will be affected. I’m leaving behind 30 years of faith tradition and practice. I know how things work in the evangelical world – what voices come from what side of the conservative/liberal spectrum, what books to read, where to find solid answers to questions I might have. I know the “rules” and how they play out.
I don’t have any of that with Catholicism – no history, no comfort, and at this point no real sense of belonging to a body or community (though I expect that to change as I slowly become involved in RCIA and at the parish where I’m attending mass). I don’t know the “rules” – in fact for the last week or two I’ve been corresponding off and on with a priest asking about things like obligation to attend mass on sunday, days of obligation, scripture translations, and how to translate my existing prayer life into this new Catholic framework. It seems every time I turn around I encounter more questions of this nature – of how do I fit my existing life into this new structure I’m being called to.
Moving into Catholicism doesn’t feel anything like “coming home” for me. It feels like some sort of strange new world. And this week I’m grieving just a bit over the loss of all that is familiar.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m still convinced this is the right journey for me. I’m still longing for that moment next Easter when I will get to share in the eucharist for the first time. But I’m tired, too, and a bit sad, when I consider all the things that I will leave behind to move forward into this new space Jesus has for me. I’m afraid of the remaining unknowns of this journey – mostly the unknown of how my steeped in professional evangelical ministry family will respond to this direction in my life. (I’m laughing at the comment a friend made last week as we were discussing this. She said that every family needs a black sheep. Who would have ever thought that in my family being the “black sheep” would involve a deepening commitment to following Jesus???)
And I’m thinking about the wisdom of C.S. Lewis, quoted above in the image that I spotted while browsing pinterest this morning. ”There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind.” I long for this to be true, because if it is true, the wonder of what is to come will likely leave me speechless, since what I leave behind is already rich and deep and beautiful.