I’m wondering how to word this. I’m struggling to put how I’m feeling. But it’s good! And it’s been a slow time burning.
I first met God when I was 11, at a Cheltenham YFC event. And it was amazing. I had felt so alone as a child, and this turned around with meeting some wonderful people, and discovering a faith where someone believed in me and wanted to be there for me. I then joined a youth group, and started going to church. At 13 I was baptised, and I continued going to church, and got involved with a lot. After my A Levels I went to work with a charity called Careforce, and became a youth leader for a year, and decided to continue that after.
For some reason I never felt I truly fit in to the churches I went to. Things weren’t easy at home as a young person, and maybe it was hard for the church elders to find a place for me, or give me the support I needed.
When I had my children I went to church and believed it the place to be. But I left when a situation occurred and I felt let down and isolated. Depression had struck and the church I was attending could or would not support me.
It was at this time, about 65 years ago I discovered paganism. A beautiful way to express a faith in the Divine, without the constraints of a man run church, with their ideals and expectations. I loved that I could worship in my way, that I could embrace the creator in all aspects of creation, and discovered much about myself. It amazed me that here were healers, and givers of love and light, that one or two of the churches I had attended had warned me against. There is a lot of confusion and mistrust in the church around healers and seers. A misguided (I believe) belief that their power come from the devil to misguide mere mortals into the way of darkness.
I learnt that God shows himself through so many other paths of faith, and I realised that there really are many paths to a life with God/Goddess/Divine. One thing I truly loved on my personal path of paganism was the feminine aspects of God. It is something that I felt I had missed. The mother heart of God. The loving, nurturing kindness of the feminine. And I embraced this ability to connect with this aspect.
There were aspects I couldn’t get to grips with. Spellcasting was something I tried, admittedly halfheartedly. The rituals I experienced were wonderful, but full of rules to me. I was used to praying, sending up my wishes and intentions up that way, and I appreciated the simplicity of prayer.
I became a Reiki practitioner. But as time went on, I came to the belief that it’s no different to the healing that goes on in churches throughout the world. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s from God/Creator/Divine.
The last year something changed. I realised more and more, that for all the issues with people in the church, there is a truly beautiful thing that occurs when people come together to serve and worship. It’s not about witnessing and convincing others to adhere to our belief system. It’s not about the Bible being 100% accurate. It’s about a shared faith in a God and creator, and wanting to give that God honour and praise and thanks, and also to know there is someone there helping in our darkest hour.
The last six years have also taught me about my expectations of others. Personal issues and realisations have brought me to a place where I understand people are so very full of flaws, and they’re doing the best they can at any given time, even if it looks to us like they really aren’t trying at all.
And I won’t get on with everyone, but I can love people where they are, even if I don’t much like them.
So I come to the crux of this post, and the changes I’ve felt in this last year. I realised I was missing something. The very, very personal relationship that I’d found when I met Jesus 22 years ago. The faith that he was walking next to me day by day. A God found in all of creation was great, but somehow he’d become distant.
And as happens sometimes, synchronicities started to stir. The message from a distant friend, the story shared by a college friend, the turning on of a certain channel at a specific moment and hearing something that spoke to me. I started to feel very much called back to a relationship I had missed for many years. And two days ago during a quiet time at home, I felt something. It’s not something I can put into words at this time, or even want to. But I feel that it was Grace. A calling home. The message that even with all my flaws I’m loved and valued. And a closeness again. Yesterday I walked miles and miles listening to worship songs I hadn’t touched in years. It was honestly the easiest 9 miles I think I have ever done!
But I am so grateful to God who let me wander off on my path and discover a new world, and new experiences. I have made some absolutely amazing friends, all with loving, giving hearts, who are wanting to serve others with love and kindness. I have learnt truly that faith should not divide us. We don’t need to be insular and stick to our own crowds for fear of disappointing God. We all have our own paths on this earth and in this lifetime. And I hope to keep those friends I’ve discovered, because they’re great, and in themselves are a gift from God, and have opened my eyes to a broader world, where we are all showing love in some way or other.
(So to you, you know who you are, yes, I guess you could now call me a Jesus loving, sandal wearing fecking vegan hippy! 😀 And I love it!)