Stories of lives that have been changed by Christ
It was pretty much the same each week. There were meetings and classes during the day, and on Thursday nights there was church choir practice and sometimes play rehearsals for little theatre. Weekends were spent parenting and doing the myriad of household chores that are required when one is a working mom who has three kids, two dogs and a changing number of cats, depending on the time of year. In other words, my life was pretty ordinary. Even though I attended church on Sunday, Christ was definitely not a real priority during the rest of the week.
As far as I was concerned, Jesus and the Christ were the same, and I did not know the difference. Their images filled the beautiful stain glass windows, beautifying places of worship, but not doing much else. I suspect that my faith stopped growing sometime after confirmation class at age 12. The early Sunday school stories that I had internalized as literal happenings stuck with me, and as I matured I chose to just set them aside rather than deal with the contradictions, doubts and unsettling questions.
For many years as a child and teen, I felt called to the priesthood, but because of my gender I just brushed those feelings aside. In the 1950s, the church had different standards for girls. The girls’ choir at the church I attended had to sit in the balcony, and we were sent off to junior congregation with the children; meanwhile the boys, including my twin brother, got to stay up front in the chancel for the service. There was an unspoken message regarding gender in the church. In retrospect, because Jesus was male, I rather suspect I felt I belonged to a second class group.
I chose to enter the field of religious studies at university, becoming a part-time student and working mom during the day. In many ways, I was blown away. Studying the history of the Christian church, particularly its relationship to children and to women, much of it quite abominable, was the initial beginning of more serious introspection. I loved the study of world religions and started to ask myself what it was I actually believed, and did it even really matter. In a Eureka moment, it finally made sense that while Jesus was the earthly, bodily existence, the Christ was the cosmic power. Through death and resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, this cosmic power was available, even to me.
There have been several significant happenings in this continual process of awareness and relationship with Christ. In 1984, I attended a Cursillo weekend in Peterborough. Truly, I had no idea what Cursillo even was. Walking up and down the halls of Kenner Collegiate and admiring the posters, I was approached by the chaplain for the weekend, the Rev. David Sissmore. He told me that this was quite unusual for him, but God had a message for me. David said that he’d prayed about it for a long time and then came looking for me, even though he had had to ask someone my name. The message essentially said that my heart’s desire would be fulfilled, but first I had to learn patience. He then asked if I understood. In a stunned way, I nodded yes, because immediately I knew it had to do with the priesthood. Interestingly, 20 years later to the exact month, I was ordained at St. James Cathedral. I am still working on the patience, but I’ve come a long way. It was this incident that opened my eyes and heart to the fact that God knows me as an individual, and in that 20 years I certainly felt the presence of Christ, particularly when patience was called for.
Now, I have to tell you that the more I study, read and discuss, the more I continue to question. Researching prayer and healing through books on physics and energy is so exciting! I have moved from the simple literalist to realizing that the mystery of Christ far exceeds human ability to put it into words. The creeds answered the questions of the time, but in my opinion they are inadequate to help us grasp, even in part, the wonder and depths of compassion and love that are there for the whole world in Christ. More than we can ask or imagine!