While reading the summer issue of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, NJ’s Gazette, I thought about my path. The message from our ministerial intern, Sabrina Trupia wasn’t just about goodbyes but their adventure and taking the right path.
Sometimes the wrong path could lead you to the right one. Everything happens for a reason. My path has changed a lot in many directions. As I look back though, I believe that I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t traveled that route. In school I wanted nothing more than to be a cartoonist. This was my plan from a very young age. I was told by my elementary school art teacher that I was young and I’d change my mind.
In a way she was right, but she was wrong too. A few years after that conversation I fell in love with photography. My instant camera everywhere and now with smart phones its even easier. I continued with art in middle and high school. I succeeded in painting, sculpting and drawing but my niche was photography.
My junior year in high school, I was amped up for college. My SAT scores were not great and therefore the counselors said that I’d never get into college. Then they told me that if I did it would take me longer than four years. I didn’t want to hear it and applied to the only college that didn’t have an early application fee. It was actually the one I really wanted to attend. Yes, it was a Catholic college, I know, shocking. I didn’t know that I was Pagan at the time, but I knew I was not Catholic.
Now not all the teachers there were nuns and priests. The school president and my creative writing teacher were nuns though. Oh, and my philosophy teacher was a priest, but we won’t get into that right now. I defied those counselors and graduated in four years with a bachelor’s degree in art in 2000.
It wasn’t until after I graduated that I went back to school for writing. Sister Brigid was an awesome writing teacher, she taught my creative writing class. She got me into writing poetry in no time. Yes, she truly lived up to her namesake, the Goddess Brigid.
It was in my college’s library that I discovered the Pagan path. Yes, it was an AOL chat room for Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I found out Paganism was real. However, it was my Catholic college library where I did my extensive research. They had many books on Paganism such as The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance. I spent many days researching it all there.
When I finally felt comfortable to mingle online, at least, I joined the Pagan Circle and Crossroads AOL chat rooms. That’s where I met my elder, second mom, the Rev. Foxxy Pullen. She invited me to join the online Druidric Learning Community — Three Fires Grove that she co-taught with her husband, Herm.
She kept asking me to choose my Pagan path. I was eclectic for a very long time, which is fine if that is what you want, I was not certain. Foxxy said she’d guide me on it and if she was unfamiliar she’d help the best she could. I told her I wanted to follow the Druid path. She, at first, told me to think on it and not to decide right then. I did just that and researched more. Another year went by and I told her. This time she took me seriously and started guiding me on this journey.
She told me to also look into a CUUPs chapter in my area. In which, many times I did and I found nothing but she was persistent and kept on me.
About six years after we met, in 2007 I got my first journalism job. I was an editorial assistant and back up photographer for four newspapers. Fast forward another 10 years and I was working for a new newspaper in Montclair. I was given the job to cover Houses of Worship.
My first assignment was to interview the two new reverends, the senior co-ministers at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair. I hadn’t the slightest clue what UU was, I’d never heard of it. Of course, Foxxy bugged me to ask about CUUPs even though I knew the answer to that question. So towards the end of the interview with the Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael and the Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael I asked. They told me that the congregation didn’t have one yet but that they did celebrate the Wheel of the Year.
They got me in touch with that person and I attended the ritual.
Shortly after I started attending, I found myself leading the new CUUPs chapter at the congregation. I was leading the group before I even became a member of UU Montclair. Now, I’m not only leading the chapter and I am a congregational member but I run the tech for the congregation. Yep, I am the first one there on most Sundays. This, the person who faked migraines not to go to church. Additionally, I am looking into video live streaming as a career with journalism as a side job.
So, it is funny how the path you take changes and sometimes you aren’t even aware until after.