It started simply enough. An end of season softball party at the Presbyterian Church, a place I had not visited in over two years. For I didn't believe in God. That's what my first book was about, in part. My two boys had a blast at the party, making their own sundaes and playing in the nursery. "Mommy, can we come back?" I thought, what's the harm? "Sure, we can come back on Sunday." But just this once, just for the kids, just to see old friends. We went that Sunday and the songs sounded familiar and warmed me. The Sermon....eh....not so great, but the love from family friends was palpable. And I felt good enough about it to post a church picture of me and the boys on Facebook.
At the same time, I was entering a difficult season in my bipolar year. Labor Day is hard for some reason. I get elevated, manic, angry, tired, hopeful and purposeful all at once. It's hard on everyone. We faced some big decisions, as well as the interminable sickness of my husband's grandmother. I felt like I needed some external support and guidance. The idea of God started to appeal to me. But I felt guilty. Like I was betraying my hard fought and still reasonable stance that there was no God. That we are the Gods. That we have unlimited potential and knowledge waiting to be tapped. That heaven is on this earth in shining and stunning moments....not in some promised afterlife. That the concept of sin has felled us, not sin in and of itself. How could God exist if all this was true too? What would my readers think? Didn't I have some duty to stick to my convictions and my prophecy about the end of religion?
But God pursued me. Quietly, lovingly, with patience, without pressure. I prayed, not to Love as I had before, but to God. And he responded in miraculous ways. And I began to feel peace. But still there was a guilt, and a feeling that my path on the journey had gotten confuzzed. I called my great friend and a non-believer, Tim, and he chuckled and said I didn't need to feel guilty. He said it's all about the journey and the self-discovery. He asked if it brought me peace, this new belief in God, and I said "Yes." He said that's all that matters. He told me to keep thinking and listening and asking questions.
Then, the miracle happened. I was cleaning out my car in mid-September, in the midst of my manic strife, and I found a medallion with the Jesus fish on it on River's side of the car. I thought, "ugh, not you. We don't believe in you. We don't need you. Stop pursuing me." I threw it away. Instantly a shiver ran through me. Should I not have thrown it away? Was there some deeper meaning behind it? Worse, was it something special to River? No matter, I went on with my day.
The next morning, not 24 hours later, I was in Wal-Mart with River. An older man stopped him and said "Have a lucky day, my son." He gave River a penny. I looked at it, and bless my stars, bless my heart, it had a cross carved into it. God came back after I threw him away. Literally, figuratively, and metaphorically. I decided to stop running from him. And I put that penny in a very safe place.
Then this thought occurred to me: For ten years I was very angry at organized religion. I called it a cancer that devoured the nascent love in our hearts. I thought the followers were simple and hypocritical. I wrote about it, cussing in my journal, weeping at religion's crimes. That hate took up a lot of space. It has slowly mollified in the last few years, and I no longer feel angry. It is like it was drawn out of me, to heal me. After the penny miracle, I thought...."God took the hate from me." He said it's too much for me to bear alone, and he would shoulder that negative energy. That comforted me. I marveled at His capacity for healing.
I've been to three funerals this month. Seeing the relics, the pieta, the bible, and the familiar notes in the hymnals has felt good. And I've thought a lot about how to resolve my two positions on God. There can be a God, and we can be Gods too. As my mom said, "You can believe in both. You can believe in ALL of it." The supernatural strength of a higher power can serve to complement the supernatural strength and love in our human bodies. We can share the Godness that resides in us. "Then, face to face." It can still be us in the mirror when we look at God's face. I can forge a new faith, a dualism that draws on love and knowledge, that reconciles our past theology with the future rapture. For the revolution is coming...the revelation is near. I continue my journey to find the truth, and I believe I am getting closer. My good friend Jess says she sees a light in me, that could turn on a light in others. She thinks I will find the truth.
Meanwhile, I continue to crave knowledge about our religions. I watched the IMAX show called "Jerusalem" with River at the Museum of Natural History last week in D.C. He was rapt, as was I. The birthplace of so many faiths, an outcropping of rocks in the high desert. The city in which faith and ancient culture collide, in a holy trinity. A place I must visit. At the top of my bucket list also is this: I will attend 52 different churches in 52 weeks. The more I learn, the more there is to learn, and it all seems beautiful right now.
So the next book is in the works, and it will not be a betrayal of "Through the Open Door" at all. I will simply finish the thought. I will step "Into the Light." And God will be there for it all. Peace and Love.