As a child, I found Catholicism appealing. It was dramatic and scary. There was the crucifixion. The resurrection. Taking holy communion on a Sunday and being told you were actually eating the body of Christ. The spectre of sin hanging over you, coupled with the thrilling fact that you were probably sinning quite a bit, but you’d be forgiven for it. As long as you confessed it.
I loved the singing. Lines from hymns pop back into my head often, like this one: Be still and know that I am God. In primary school at lunchtimes, I even used to go into the church next door. I’d sing with other small, similarly bewitched friends. We’d do the stations of the cross. We felt very holy.
I grew into my teens. I drank. I smoked. I had sex. I lied. None of it married well with Catholicism, even though in between bouts of extreme sinning, the ingrained doctrine meant I felt incredibly guilty and sorry a lot of the time. As an adult, there is a Catholic part of me that cannot be removed. It’s tattooed into my cells. I’ve made peace with it, scraping by with my own patchwork version that’s female-friendly, all-inclusive and without a paedophile in sight.
What was present in me as a child – faux-holiness and all – and then missing as a teen and young adult, was simply this: Spiritual connection. I see now that it’s what I was desperately looking for when I was drinking heavily, or having yet another doomed love affair, or succumbing to the somnambulance of depression. I needed to find a connection to something that had already been inside of me all along.
I catch glimpses of it now. Wispy and dark clouds part in rapid winds, revealing a periwinkle perfect sky. During meditation, I sense the isness of the self. Like the trunk of a tree or the foundation of a carefully built house. It is stillness absolute – and yet it vibrates as fast as the wings of a hummingbird, sucking nectar from the infinite offerings of the earth.