I finally take my first step into the doorway. I don’t know where it is going to lead so all I can do is hold my hand out stretched in front of me and to follow the path laid before my feet.
The following Sunday morning (March 6, 2011) I see my husband off to go golfing with a friend. My son and I are both up and I decide we should just go to Mass. I had no excuses this time and if I did not go I would just disappoint myself yet again. I was sad that my husband was not with me but that was not a reason to skip Mass. So, we get dressed (my son was in an adorable little suit) and off we go.
As usual, I am running 5 minutes behind and we scurry into the church and find a place to sit towards the back just as the priests and deacons are coming down the main aisle towards the front. There are a lot of people in the church and it is hard to see up front and what is going on. I like sitting up front and being able to see everything. I think it is good for my son too. I am short and I always seem to sit behind the people who are 6’5″ and if you are in the back I have not just one or two rows but 15 rows of tall people. During the Mass so much was almost foreign to me in the actions and responses. I was grasping onto the twinges of memory of Mass from my years in Catholic schools. Thankfully I had the missalette to help me through portions of the Mass but not everything is laid out in it from start to finish like it is in the Episcopal church’s, Book of Common Prayer. I guess the Catholics expect you to remember what you’re supposed to do! I did feel like a nincompoop when I could not remember any portions of the Nicene creed and had to search in my missalette frantically which I didn’t find successfully. (I did later). My son did wonderfully and the little old lady’s were eating up his chubby cheeks and little suit he was wearing. He seemed very happy to be there and was asking all kinds of questions. The people were very nice and inviting. I was not an outsider to be considered but a newcomer to be welcomed.
Attending church is always a very emotional experience for me. I am known to have a good cry in church! Through most of the Mass I had tears in my eyes. During communion, since I could not receive the Eucharist, I spent the time kneeling in prayer. My mind and my heart was racing and I was so scared and nervous, I didn’t know what to pray to God. All I knew to do was to say what was in my heart. It felt very good to be there but I had an internal windstorm of emotions: Happiness, unworthiness, shame, regret, elation, warmth, love, and homecoming. I truly felt to the bottom of my soul that I had come home after a long exodus. Kind of like a wayward and rebellious teenager who had gone off in the world and grew up and returned to their parents home, welcomed, but understanding of what had been theirs all along had they only the wisdom to accept it. I felt I had wasted so much time away from the Church and what was before me was clear as day. I had always had belief in God and Jesus but I was too busy being lazy and selfish to accept Jesus fully into my heart. The act of love is a selfless act and by loving Jesus and accepting him in my heart was tearing away the selfishness that had surrounded my heart. For so long, I didn’t want to do what I knew would be required of me as a Catholic, a follower of Jesus. It is not the easiest of paths to follow but it was the only path I wanted to take. I quickly started to realize, I wanted those challenges. They would make me a stronger Christian and bring me closer to Jesus, whom is my Lord and Savior. He is the truth and the way. As a mom, it was also my duty and responsibility to show this way to my son. I would be a failure as a mother not to bring my son into the light of God and to show him the same path.
All of the other diverging paths laid before my feet started to fall away. I have stepped through the doorway and onto the path, looking forward with my heart full, my mind awake, and my hands open.
When I stepped out of the church that beautiful Sunday morning, the world looked truly different. The sun was brighter, the sky bluer, and the trees mightier. I had stepped through the doorway and into the light of God.