Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lately all I'm all right, and lately I'm not scared

I really shouldn't have Girl Scout cookies laying about on my floor today, since I'm fasting and in prayer for my cousin Eddy's recovery from a skiing accident which occured on March 5th. I also have Catholic Apologetics class tonight with my uncle/godfather, Frank. I've learned a lot through this class, and not just about Catholicism. I've learned about faith, hope, and love. I guess it wasn't totally this class that got me thinking about God and my relationship to Him again. For years, I've grappled with ideas of faith, my ideals and what I should be. It's complicated, both on a personal level and on a spiritual level.

Having been raised Roman Catholic means something to me. Catholicism is sometimes on a par with Judaism as far as misunderstood faiths, because people who aren't Catholic have notions about what it means, and even those raised "in the Church" also have skewed perceptions because of their personal experiences. I haven't had negative experiences, but I have had some less than positive experiences, mostly in relation to confirmation. I didn't get confirmed as Catholic, but neither did I become Buddhist or Athiest. And I never closed myself off from the idea of getting confirmed, I just thought fifteen was a crazy enough time as it was.

Last summer, I overheard some conversations my uncle Frank had with some other relatives in various settings. Every year, our family has a big extended reunion type of vacation up north near Bemidji, Minnesota. Mostly, it's playing games and using the lake, but sometimes things get serious, and last year was one of those times. I really admired the way my uncle defended Catholicism, but also accepted that family members he was speaking to were Christian and that we share beliefs.

Unrelatedly, another uncle of mine started asking me "The Big Questions" in a late night conversation at his cabin. I didn't have excellent answers, other than to say, "I don't know... um... I don't know?" and in relation to his questions about my future, my feelings about marriage and children, I got to play the higher education card. "Graduate school. But I don't know what to study at this point. My options are open." Later in the summer, I started dealing very seriously with my level of anxiety over the state of my life, and saw a therapist for what I termed "sleep issues." I readily admit to anyone that I have trouble falling asleep because I "think too much." But what was weighing on my mind was not a public matter.

Part of what my therapist prescribed was a "sleep routine." Just doing the same pattern of things before bed was supposed to send a signal to my brain to wind down and lay off the heavy thoughts. So I began my routine with brushing my teeth, then I would write in my journal one or two lines of thoughts that were running through my mind at that time, and then prayer. Simple prayers, basic prayers, but honest. My therapist was impressed with my progress and said, basically, "What else can I help you with?" and I revealed my conversation with my uncle about my future. She said, "Apply to school." So I did, and I figured if I didn't get into that school, I could try again, and again, or let myself be okay with the state of things.

A lot of resolution has happened in my life since September. Getting a new job so I could stop working two jobs was one change I gladly welcomed. Having Tuesday evenings free to take Apologetics was great. A month passed, October, my favorite month. I was settling into my job, but still worried; my life, my future, my friend S were all on my mind. I wanted to stop waiting for my life to "happen" and have some direction.

Suddenly, it was November, and in the same week, S admitted feelings for me and I got my acceptance letter for graduate school at the College of St. Catherine for a Masters in Library and Information Science. I chalked up my "good luck" to "good karma," putting good things out into the universe and reaping the rewards. But I see now that it was all God's hand in my life. That I deserve nothing I have except through and in Him.

Seeing this in my own life makes me believe that my cousin Ed can be healed, it gives me faith and courage to say that I believe that God can work miracles. And so I just pray, every day, for God to be with Eddy.

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