But once I start to study “those rules” I am often amazed by the history and beautifully rich traditions of The Universal Church. Which is what the word Catholic means. Because before there were a zillion other churches there was The Church. So why not hedge my bets on the oldest Christian Church on the planet? The one Jesus told Peter to start? Oliver and Isabelle, St.Guillame Le Desert, France, 1999. These trips to holy places when we had our house over there, created a desire to learn more about the church in me.
So Christians have been arguing and fighting about what Jesus really set out to do since Martin Luther nailed his opinions to the church door hundreds of years ago and started the Reformation.
|Me at 20 with Yvonne, may she rest in peace,one of my best friends, who was with me in the car that night, and Marina, still my best friend.|
There have just been too many crazy stories in my life like this where I realized that yes, there was a God out there watching over me, whether I worshiped Him or not.
My stories of barely escaping peril and danger growing up in LA are many. I was pretty much a reckless idiot. I now firmly believe I had a guardian angel protecting me. So why not study and get to know more? You would think I would have rushed out to find a church at 17 after that incident, but no, I was too self absorbed at that age to think much about God and the help given to me. Unless of course, myself or someone else in my family was in danger. You can be sure that I was praying then.
It wasn’t until my now 19 and 17 year old were in preschool that I decided to join a church. I knew next to nothing about Christian religions and joined my church because I liked the old fashioned clapboard style steeple building and the sound of the members singing inside when I would drive by on my way down Topanga Canyon to Malibu. I wanted to belong somewhere and I wanted my kids to have that, too.
|Topanga Christian Fellowship|
We had a brief and happy membership at this church which happened to be affiliated with the Foursquare church, a Pentecostal denomination. I was baptized in our swimming pool while my husband looked on a bit skeptically. He’s not the religious type. That wasn’t part of the deal when we got married and I don’t expect him to change because I did. As the way of many small Protestant churches, our happy group fell apart when our pastor was ousted by the church board. We moved to a new area as well, and I stopped going to church.
It wasn’t until we moved to this old farmhouse that I would become a Catholic. I had been homeschooling my kids and found a small Catholic school that I liked. My two kids had been baptized by a friends cousin who was a priest when they were little, on the off chance that they might want to become Catholic someday and because in the back of my mind, I always thought of myself as Catholic.
I really knew nothing about the Catholic church and was a little worried about all of the horrible things I had been reading in the papers about predatory priests. It took about 5 years of studying, and my son getting his First Holy Communion, until I decided I would join the church of my grandparents and the church my own parents had been raised in. It’s not perfect, and I have a lot of questions still, and doubts sometimes, but that’s OK, my priest tells me. A priest I firmly trust.
So I go to confession and each time I hope to start again. And each time I mess up. I’m trying to raise my children in a church and believe it’s the best choice for them. At times I’m a real flake about being consistent with it. But I want them to know that they aren’t alone in times of need. That they are part of a community. That yes, they will screw up like I did, but hopefully not as many times as I did, because they have a guide map. And that when they do mess up and they will, God loves them anyway. Its been twenty five years since that night in Hollywood and although I have come a long way in my spiritual life since those days, I still have a long way to go. Maybe another twenty five years.