I was raised in the Catholic Church by Portuguese immigrants. You may wonder why the Portuguese immigrant part makes a difference.
Well, here is just one example for you.
My Grandmother had the Holy Spirit come to her house yearly. He comes in the form of a crown and scepter. He is placed in the Jesus room. Yes, I did say Jesus room. The front room of her home is an homage to Christ, and yes it does have plastic covers on the sofa. I did say Portuguese immigrants.
Every night at 7pm all the Portuguese ladies roll though and pray the rosary. Then there is chatting and pastry. This was always my favorite Portuguese Catholic tradition, and trust me there were plenty to choose from.
I was also blessed enough to spend my school years in catholic school. I was an alter girl, and all around Jesus freak really.
I loved religion. I loved it the most. It was my favorite part of my life. I always felt a strong personal connection to Jesus, however it never stopped me from asking questions no one wanted to answer.
By the time I was in third grade my Mother was called by the Nuns. They told her I asked too many questions, and could she please get me to stop doing that in class. I was influencing the other children…….
My Mother is hyper critical of EVERYTHING I do, but not to other people. If an outsider had something to say that was critical about her kid she would tell them to fuck off in a very professional tone of voice. The Nuns were no exception.
I remember clearly having this conversation about my question asking. She told me to keep asking the questions, but to not do it in front of the other kids.
So I did.
I asked them all the time.
She would always say I have no idea when I would ask her how there could even be a Hell if everything God made was good, and he was the most powerful being in the universe? Wouldn’t the sheer existence of hell mean there was something just as powerful as he was?
If there was only one God what happened when other religions died? Did they go to Hell, or was Heaven segregated by Religious beliefs?
The one that always got me an eye roll, and an “Oh please Janika” was if Jesus was God why was he crying in the garden for God to take the burden of cleansing our sins away by crucifixion from him? The Trinity was always a thorn in my side.
I always saw the holes in the story, but I never really let them effect the way I felt about my Religion. Not even in high school when you are so self centered you forget other people even exist.
Then I had OG, and something happened after that first year. I can’t tell you what it was or how long it had been there hiding.
I swear to you it felt like I had been holding Jesus’s hand over a steep rocky cliff for so long. Hanging onto these outdated beliefs that someone gave to me, and finally I looked him square in the face, and let go of his hand.
When I finally did let go I was beyond lost. How was I going to function in this world without my religion? It had always been one of the biggest pieces of me.
I stopped loving the rosary weeks at my Grandmothers house, I stopped going to mass, I stopped talking to God. It was dark times for me I had lost that sunshine spark that makes me who I am. It had become coated with cynicism.
I know now that I had to break it all up to build it back up stronger.
Little by little I have been allowing my own beliefs in the Divine to take hold of me. I have settled my sadness about Christianity.
God has no Religion.
I always knew this, but it was a story that I was so in love with that when I let myself feel the weight of it’s fiction it broke my heart.
This past year is the first year I can tell you without a shaky voice that Jesus is back in my life. Once I got past all the bullshit about the story of Christ. It was like he walked back in smiled at me, and took his spot at my table that had still been empty from his absence. I may not believe Jesus is God. I most certainly do not believe he was magically born of a Virgin, or that he died to cleanse the world of our sins and become the first sighting of a zombie, but I do believe he is one of the most beautiful spiritual teachers to ever grace the Earth.
Without him I wouldn’t be me. It was in those stories I learned what life was really all about. Kindness, compassion and love. He was always my favorite part about Catholicism.
I found God in my morning walks. Without even knowing I was looking for him. I feel that overwhelming Divine presence of perfection in every winter sunrise. The frost sparkling across the lawns like glitter, the way the Winter filters all the sunrise colors to pink, and the poor teenagers up too early waiting for the school bus in the dark.
I still love going to Catholic mass. Something about the stained glass and battered Jesus make me feel at home. I put back up my rosary beads, my crosses. They are right next to my tarot cards, and other strange things that remind me of God.
God has no Religion. The Divine presence of the creator is everywhere, and most importantly it is in yourself.
Kanye West may be a flagrant douche bag, and he may not get all the pieces right, but he wasn’t kidding when he said “I am a God”
Our soul is a piece of God.
I do not recommend being a critical, self centered prick, but I do recommend letting yourself feel the God in you. It makes the worlds magic appear in the most random places.