You’d be hard pressed to profess anything, in January, in the Ohio Valley, when the earth and sky are a uniform shade of gray-brown slush whether it snows or not.
There’s been next to no snow so far. The weather is lukewarm, nauseating, too cool to have the windows open but too warm for the ground to freeze. The sun doesn’t shine in the few hours it’s up over the horizon at all. There is a constant trickle of sleet. If God were real and vindictive, He’d send a good strong blizzard to sanitize the world with white snow. It would be much more effective than the flood of Noah. If God were real, and loving, He’d give up on this limbo and send sunshine and crocuses early. But neither happens.
Serendipity is still being worked on by the Lost Girl’s uncle, so I can’t go anywhere off the bus route. Not that there’s anywhere to go, in January. I go for walks. I pace up and down the streets of LaBelle, or I take a bus and do it downtown. And while I walk, I think. I think too much.
My thoughts hurt.
I have had a very hard 2022, and I’m allowing myself to consider anything that pops through my head. That is liberating, but it hurts.
When I was scrolling down my Twitter feed today, I happened to see a tweet from Emily Petrini: Deconstruction is an untangling. It’s a desperate attempt to untangle God from Mark Driscoll. Matt Chandler. Dave Ramsey. Piper and Dobson. The common thread is men who would say, “this isn’t my opinion. It’s Gods. Take it up with Him.” And now we are.
I like that, but it also terrifies me.
That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m allowing myself to untangle, and trying not to care where the untangling takes me.
If I stay Catholic, fine. If I end up an Episcopalian or a Methodist or a Quaker, fine. If I wind up a witch like Holly, I will pursue the truth wherever it takes me, but I will look for God. I will be like the mice nibbling the cords off Aslan’s body in the Chronicles of Narnia, and I will see who God is once God is free.
Free from the Charismatic Renewal. Free from Father Mike Scanlan and those narcissistic, abusive, criminal Franciscan Third Order Regulars. Free from my mother’s Charismatic spiritual director, whom I’ve called Sister Angeline, but someday I’ll come out and say the name of the person who ruined our family. Free from the Legionnaries of Christ and their lay organizations as well. Free from John Paul the Second and Saint Pio and the Fatima apparitions for that matter. Just God.
Of course I’ve been raised from infancy to believe that’s not how you learn what God wants. You learn what God wants by being obedient to the right people. But if those people have proven themselves to be completely untrustworthy, what then? If the things they do are mortal sins, where does that leave me? To whom shall I go? To Christ, but Christ isn’t where I was told He would be. There are anti-Christs there in his place. And they’ve completely ruined my life.
I’m not saying the Catholic Church is the same thing as the Charismatic Renewal, but the Charismatic Renewal is the Catholic Church’s fault.
I was raised to believe that you will know the Catholic Church is the one true Church, because she is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. But my little corner of the Catholic Church has not been one. My little corner has been shredded like Christ at the pillar, with little factions and sects biting at each other’s heels and each of them calling the other heretics. She has been holy at some times and blasphemously unholy at others– the less holy the more you dig below the surface. “Catholic” means “universal,” and I can’t attest to whether that’s true either way. Apostolic I’ll grant them. They are apostolic. It was an apostle who turned Jesus over to be murdered, an apostle who denied Him three times before cockcrow, and an apostle who ran away naked rather than stand with Him, apostles who called the myrrh-bearing women crazy. And their successors act the same way.
Where does this leave me?
It leaves me wandering up and down LaBelle, in January, plagued with the inkling that I’m going to hell, the same one that’s been gnawing at me since last March.
Of course, as I was told and have professed since infancy, Christ also descended into hell.
If what I was given to believe is true, descent into hell is part of the imitation of Christ.
“I want you to be real,” I prayed to Christ the other day, and meant it. And I pondered that that is part of the mystery of creation. The Father, I’m told, so loved creation that He wanted creation to be real, so He said “Let there be light,” and it came to be. I am told, and would like to believe, that the reason I exist is that the Father loves me so much that He wants me to be real. So I am loving God in the same way that God loves me, right now.
And as I say that, I am certain that I still believe in God.
The Church will never be my mother, but God might be my Father.
January grinds on into February, and after that, eventually, comes the spring. In spring the clouds part now and then, revealing the sky. I will start planting my garden again. It will stay bright after five in the afternoon. But first, I have to get through January.