I have been casting about for a few years for a spiritual community that fits me. I have decided there really isn't one.
I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school, the whole nine yards. I even have an aunt who is a Catholic nun. I was kicked out of Catholic high school in my sophomore year but had really left long before. I hold no personal resentment for the church of my birth, I had no traumatic experience that drove me away, it was far more subtle and gradual than that. As a kid, I loved going to church, dressing up in our Sunday clothes and sometimes going out for breakfast after. I loved the ritual, I loved singing as a group, I loved the familiarity of the routine that was going to church. The gospels and sermons never really left much of an impression on me, it was far more the experience that was church. My long goodbye began rather early, in the third grade when I was sent to the principal and my mother was called because I asked a question that I was told was disrespectful. (See the post titled "Sister Mary Anunciata Does Not Approve" for details.) I was not allowed to question, I was expected to accept without reservation everything the church taught me. I am not built to accept blindly, I don't believe humans are truly capable of giving up wonder and curiosity, nor should they. It was this refusal to embrace or even allow questions that eventually led to my departure. And, as it turns out, I am WAY too liberal for the church of my birth.
My beloved and I have been married for twenty years and have had only one major, knock down, drag out fight. Whether or not our firstborn would be baptized in the Catholic church. He left the church long ago as well, but for him it was less a crisis of faith and more the fact that he got busy doing other things. We did end up baptizing number one son but not number two. Considering that number one has only ever been to church for a couple of funerals and a wedding, I think the decision to leave number two undunked was legitimate. My issues with baptism stem solely from my feminista side, I don't buy into the whole washing away the "sins of Eve" thing .
I have three sisters and only one of us still attends Catholic church, another has become Lutheran and one has tried out a few different religions and, like me, has not found one that works for her. I know a lot of people my age that have drifted away from their respective religions for one reason or another. For some it is a deep division between their beliefs and the teachings of their church. For others, life got in the way and they just never got back into the habit. And even some that just never felt "it". I think I fall into all three of those categories. Have we gotten too busy for church? Are we becoming too cynical for faith? Is it laziness that keeps many of us away? I'm not sure.
I miss the feeling of community I got from going to church and being a part of that. I have even had friends advise me to join a church for that reason alone but that feels false to me and I would feel like I was lying. I occasionally feel a bit envious of my friends who still have that kind of connection to their deity. I hear more and more people call themselves spiritual rather than religious and I am definitely one of those. I started reading (and oversharing on Facebook) some of the Dalai Lama's writings, to the point that my eldest sister called and asked if I had joined a cult. She said I seemed like I was on "bliss overload", she may have been right. I like the idea of being excellent to yourself and being excellent to everyone else. I can get behind the concept that being good and being happy are what God, whatever God is to you, wants for all of us. The idea that science and religion and peacefully coexist seems logical and smart. So, Buddhism it is! Now to find a temple in northern Minnesota....