I remember the day I lost my Catholic church. I walked into the building where I had been baptized, the church where I had grown up, played guitar, read from the lectern for more than 30 years. And instead of feeling the relaxed homecoming I was used to, I felt nauseous.
I looked around at the familiar paintings, the statues, and felt sick. Suddenly, as if a heavy veil was pulled from my eyes, it was painfully obvious to me that there were no women leaders portrayed or welcome here. The images were all white faced, sanctimonious. The faces were mainly male, save one. There was only a humble sweet and sad virgin, desexed and relegated to playing the second divine fiddle. Meek and mild. Something powerful inside me said this was wrong. I was overcome by a wave of sickening rage, a dam inside of me breaking. I had been holding back the impact of worst parts of the Church I loved – the misogyny, the genocides of the inquisition, and colonial greed and violence. Suddenly it was all obvious and so loud.
I can’t claim these feelings were entirely new. They’d been cooking inside me for a long time. I had been long struggling intellectually with the Church’s positions on sexuality, on divorce, on women. But on this day, a few months after the birth of my second child and the subsequent sudden awakening of my intuitive abilities, I could ignore these things no more. Pop! Boom.
There I was, in church, dizzy, flushed, heart pounding. I used the baby as an excuse to step out of the mass service. I took deep breaths outside, trying to quell the rising tide of disgust and terror in my body. I sat down, my baby in my arms, on a cement curb in the side yard of my church. And I cried.
I prayed, calling on God to show me what’s true. But I knew that this disgust was already the partial answer to that prayer. I was seeing a new level of truth. I was facing a shadow I had been long ignoring about my beloved church.
I went home that day feeling distraught. How ironic that my faith journey, my deep connection with the Holy Spirit and my creator, were confronting me to disengage from my church community. At least, that’s what it seemed like at the time. My heart ached for the ease and innocence of trusting the Roman Catholic Church to be my structure, my framework, and the anchor of my connection to God. Apparently, I would be afforded no more such simplicity.
I was scared. Did this mean I was no longer counted among the faithful? Did this mean I was losing my precious connection to Jesus, who had always been my guiding light?
Back at home, I put the baby down for her nap and walked outside barefoot on my redwood deck overlooking a canyon in San Diego. I lifted a strong prayer. I asked Jesus, “Are you breaking up with me?” I felt sullen, pouty in my tantrum. Scared like a child abandoned by her papa. And then I had a vision.
From the bushes below my deck, walking up the hill towards my yard, I saw a vision of all the spirit guides and angels who had been appearing to me for the last few months. They were walking up the hill towards me, smiling, full of love.
And then I saw him. It was my Jesus, emerging through the middle of this crowd of guides, his arms out in a playful loving gesture of inclusion.
Yes. This was the Jesus I had always known. And he didn’t always fit with the church’s descriptions and stories. I could acknowledge this now. This Jesus, the powerful teacher, healer, guide and Child of God… He was including all of the shapes and metaphors through which I have been connecting with my divine creator.
I got the message with a deep certainty, even as I felt torn open with vulnerability. On my knees, sobbing, I welcomed the message of love.
Your divine mother father is much bigger than any one metaphor. Your loving source is too big for anyone’s story, too rich to be controlled, dominated, or owned by anyone tradition. You are surrounded by the love of God,. You are encouraged to communicate with God in whatever way suits you. As long as Love is your primary Intention and directive, you shall feel my guidance, love, and support.
From that day on, I have continued to live a life of faith and spiritual connection. But my prayer does not follow a script. My relationship with spirit no longer fits into a dogmatic framework. There are no more easy answers like “just go to church on Sunday” and “confess your sins and they are all forgiven.”
Instead, my prayer has become a conversation. My values and heart guide my relationship and collaboration with spirit – not the rules created by a religious or political institution designed to organize and control cultures, economies, and lifestyles. In fact, my prayerful connection with God through my guides angels, and yes, Jesus too, are part of my every day life, and intrinsic to my work. I no longer live in fear of the wrath of a judgmental god. That god does not exist to me. God is love. And Love is inclusive.
I know that my way is not the choice, nor the best solution, for everyone. And there are sometimes when I miss the easy community that comes with being a member of the biggest religion-club in my country “Christianity.” (Even as I say “Christ-ianity” I feel Jesus flinch at the crappy things that are done in his name, things the prince of peace would never have stood with.)
But I have found deep community and fellowship among other “spiritual but not religious“ people, as well as in my native American spiritual family. I’ve learned that we don’t have to all agree on the same metaphors and rules in order to join together in ceremony and prayer for the highest good.
I don’t claim to have the answers for everyone. But I am grateful and fulfilled in my faith as it lives in me now, including my ongoing and rich relationship with Jesus. I will continue to walk my own path with my Creator, doing my best to live love.
Mellissa was a Stanford-educated business lawyer until her intuitive abilities awakened in the year 2000 with the birth of her daughter. Now she bridges the worlds of business strategy and intuitive intelligence. Creative designers, Fortune 500 executives, and thought leaders hire her to teach them how to Channel their Genius – to create on demand, to stay in their flow state, and to create lucrative businesses that follow their souls’ calling.