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Reminiscing on 9/11 and spirituality

Written on 9/11--

For me, today being 9/11 brings a lot of questions about spirituality and faith. I was 21 and at UC Berkeley when everything started happening. My hometown of Chicago was starting to panic about the Sears Tower being hit too. (I also had a cousin who worked in the Pentagon who was unhurt but it left our family shaken)  I found myself praying for the terror to end just like others here.  Watching in disbelief as those towers went down taking all those lives with them.  Seeing a part of the Pentagon gone... and all the rest.

People reacting emotionally were retaliating against anyone looking middle eastern. I went to Mass that evening and for several days to help find some kind of peace. It was very healing for me personally to receive comfort and love from everyone in that building, at that specific time. I think my faith was strengthened that day considerably.  I think most Americans rallied around each other in a show of support.  Yet, my my faith would be severely tested in the days and months that followed.
 
As more information starting coming forth as to who was responsible for the attacks even I was feeling anger. (I suppose that's what a lot of Americans felt about their Japanese neighbors after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941) But not once did I feel any ill will towards the family four houses down from my parents who were from Pakistan that I had known for half my life. Their windows had been smashed by bricks thrown by people upset. If they had any real intelligence or tolerance they would know this family was Hindu and not even Muslim. And also, that not all Muslims were responsible for 9/11. 
 
I am a cradle Catholic.  My father is a deacon in the church I grew up in and I did everything the way a good Catholic girl should do: love my father, prayed every night, wore the white dress and veil when I had my first Communion.  You name any kind of Catholic 'cliche' and I lived it all the way through high school. Once I got to California and the liberal bay area, things changed.  I stopped going to Mass completely and found freedom.  When I graduated and returned to Chicago with the intention of going to Northwestern for a Masters I was expected to live at home again with my parents and resume being the good Catholic girl I was.  

Then I started dating Chris.  His family had never attended church.  I knew this because we've known each other since I was 12 and him 14. His sister is my best female friend.  To the horror of my parents I moved in with Chris, stopped going to school to work and support him while was at Northwestern Law School, and generally left the church altogether.  

I thought my faith was what was supposed to get me through the crises' of my life. At age 29 I've had my fair share of trials and tribulations. The most recent being the end of my relationship with the man I thought was 'the one' for me after almost three years.  The entire time we were together I strayed from the church more and more.  I asked him to accompany me several times to Mass or functions but he was resistant to outright refusing.  My father told me I was turning my back on him, my family, and the church by living with Chris.  It's only been since June that I've started going to Mass again regularly.   I was missing something I loved.  The familiar feelings, routine, even the comfort of going to Mass with my family.  All four of my older siblings were married and starting families so I was at the Catholic church a lot with weddings, baptisms, etc.  I realized I missed it.  But not because of any kind of faith, but because of the consistency of the life I had always known.  It was comforting. Since the breakup I have been to extra masses during the week looking for guidance and comfort but haven't been able to find exactly what I'm looking for.  

What am I looking for?  Where will I find it?  Will I find it?  Am I looking hard enough?  Too hard?  I'm questioning almost everything about my faith right now. And there are many people out there who dislike my religious beliefs simply because I'm Catholic. My whole family is. My friends are. Is it time for me to look elsewhere? Should I open my mind to another religion? Can I open my mind to other faiths?  

How is my spirituality changing?  From childhood to college and freedom, to adulthood and relationships, to a major event or trauma?  Is there one type to suit me or many types?

These are the things I'm thinking about right now.
 

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