When you feel the power of the Divine and see it working in your life, it seems important that it have a name, especially when you are young. In my senior year of high school I remember sitting in journalism class and talking with two devout Christians, one I believe was Pentecostal and the other had been Born Again with a loving vengeance–by that last I mean that KN was on a mission to share her spiritual rebirth and bring all her friends to the Light.
During our conversation, she impressed upon me how grateful she was to have been Saved because she had been on a reckless path to self destruction. I can’t say if she had been exaggerating, but I did know how she had grown from a spiteful girl to one less angry at the world. If being Saved had helped her then I was glad for her, but she was adamant that she now worried for all her friends with me being one of them. Chief among her concerns was her desire to know that when the end came and Heaven opened its gates to her that all her friends would be there as well. It became obvious that the criteria one had to meet according to her left what I considered a lot of good people out.
I had begun researching other cultures around the world, using my geography class as a springboard. From what I could tell faith was bigger and more diverse than she wanted me to believe. For her there was only one path to Heaven, and thankfully she was now on it. At the time I was focused on the exclusivity of what she described, and it did not sound good to me. What about all those people in the world who loved their families, did right by their neighbors, and devoted themselves to being good people? Not all of them believed as she did. That is where the conversation ended, and we never did pick it back up.
Throughout my last year of high school I began to see that many of my beliefs about the Divine and faith seemed to be in line with paganism, and I began to embrace the Wiccan ways. By the start of my first year of college that was what I identified myself as. Being Wiccan was as much about trying to find my spiritual identity as it was about having something to say when asked what my faith was, but there was a part of me that was still in search of Faith.
I ended up at a private, women’s college where I attended Chapel once a week as all first year students were required to, and I listened as attentively as one could be expected to listen in a required situation. That isn’t to say that I stuffed cotton in my ears, but my mind wandered during the ministrations of the chaplain. However, my mind did not wander quite as much or as far from the service as my being Wiccan at the time would have others believe about me.
As I said, I thought a lot about faith. What was it? How did one have it? What did one do with it? I took Ethics and Wold Religions when the only alternatives were Old and New Testament because I wanted to know what was out there. I even took a course in Philosophy. Interestingly enough it was in my Psychology classes, as I began my major studies, I realized that even as I had been Wiccan it still didn’t satisfy me spiritually. By the end of college my being Wiccan was becoming just another part of my journey. I held on to it for a few more years before letting the label go.
Now when I am asked, I still don’t have a good title for my faith and I still search. I believe in God, the Divine in everything and everyone. I have absolute faith that we were gifted with the strength to face our challenges. I believe that every religious text contains wisdom and lessons that can help us develop our moral character. Maybe this isn’t the kind of faith that has a name. I am not searching to believe, I am searching to understand. It’s a spiritual journey, one that will most likely last a life time.