I stopped going to church my sophomore year in college. Nothing unusal there. Despite the fact that our parents sent us to a Catholic University so we wouldn’t lose our faith, everyone I knew stopped going to church their sophomore year.
I made a big mistake, though. The mistake wasn’t stopping going to church. That, I think, was a natural evolutionary step in my teenage struggle to differentiate myself. The mistake was tossing out the proverbial baby with the proverbial bathwater. With one giant whooosh, the whole thing flew out the window. I consciously wanted to toss out the dogma and theology and obligation and endless focus on sin, but in the same motion I threw out all the beautiful practices, all the prayer, all the mystical symbols and songs. I threw out every method I knew to connect with the divine.
It wasn’t until I woke up 40 and pregnant that I felt an urge to reconnect. I tried going back to the Catholic church, but it didn’t fit. Then, I tried Episcopalian and that went pretty well until one Sunday my 3 1/2 yr old asked as the priest completed the benediction, “Where’s God the mother?”
That sent me searching for a feminine diety. And when I discovered that not only was God originally the Goddess, but she was served by priestesses, well, I was tickled pink. Bye-bye all-male priesthood. Bye-bye only-male altar boys. Bye-bye boys in charge. The girls are back!
But you know what? That felt great for a couple years but not for long. It was still an us/them conflict. It just had the “us” I prefered. But was it really any better that girls and only girls were in charge of dogma and theology and practice? Why did it have to be one or the other? Why did one have to exclude the other? Why couldn’t we both be emissaries to the divine?
Last week as I was having chats with my best friend, my loving wise Voice, a phrase popped onto the page: I am my own priest. I sucked in my breath when I saw it. The seven-year old “good little Catholic girl” who still resides deep under my skin was scandalized. “Whaddya mean, I am my own priest?” I wrote.
But of course, the Voice is right. I am, you are, we all are, we all have to be our own priests/priestesses/shamans/rabbis/imams. No intermediary is required. No intermediary is necessary. Maybe no intermediary is even desired.
It’s lovely, it’s true, to pray alongside someone who has a profound prayer practice. It is divine to be in the presence of someone holy. It is comforting to hear someone else’s words of prayer and hope. BUT, you can do it all by yourself. You can do it right now. In your kitchen. At the computer. Lying in bed in the dark. In the shower. Driving to work. Folding the laundry. You have direct and immediate access to Spirit. We all do. We just forgot that for a few thousand years.
I find this a relief. It’s not about finding the “right” priest or shaman. It’s not about finding the “right” religion. The “right” prayers. The “right” ceremonies. It’s about connecting. It’s about standing in the sacred space that you create, calling forward the words that come from your soul. And connecting, really deeply and truly connecting with that which is holy.
That’s what we’re doing today on day 2 of the December Plan. We are all becoming our own priests, our own priestesses, our own shamans, our own rabbis. We are all stepping into our own divine power and saying to our divine Source: here I am. How can we get closer?
How are you connecting this December?