Let yourself be silently drawn to the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. -Rumi
On this day last year, I found myself sitting in a Catholic church in observation of All Souls’ Day, my first time in the church in years. Only two months after losing Nelle, I could barely contain my sorrow and cried through the entire mass. Candles with the names of those being remembered were lit.
This year, I found myself in the same place: inside a Catholic church, this time with a candle bearing the names of both Nelle and Iris.
I felt drawn to be there. Even though I have found the Unitarian church to be a better fit for my spiritual path lately, I was drawn to the ritual: the meditative standing, sitting, kneeling, responses that I know by heart and can complete without pause. Even as a young, Catholic adult, free to make my own choices, I always continued to attend Holy Days of Obligation or other feast days. I recognized tonight the irony: that as a practicing, non-member Unitarian/confirmed non-practicing Catholic fellow Unitarians would applaud my choice to seek what pulls me.
I left the house with plenty of time to get to the church, but a combination of passing two bad car accidents and rain, I suddenly found myself pulling into the parking lot at 7:00 pm exactly. However, walking into the church, I realized that mass was not starting until 7:30. I had thirty quiet moments to myself.
I wrote my daughters’ names on the candle, and looked around. Other people where sitting, talking in low murmurs, or praying. No one seemed sad, or affected. I found myself feeling isolated, again. Why did I constantly feel like the only person crying? After a few minutes of wiping at my eyes, I looked around again. The woman who sat down in the pew next to me had her face buried in her hands. A family was sitting several pews over, including two grade-school children who were crying. An old man, who looked to be in his nineties, had his mouth drawn into a deep frown, and kept reaching into his pocket for a cloth handkerchief. I wondered about the people that they had loved.
I walked my candle to the front of the room and set it with the others. I kept my face muscles drawn tight, worried that if I even reached up to brush back my hair that I would start crying. As I walked back to my seat, a toddler girl with dark hair nearly ran into me. She was giggling in a carefree way. Seeeing her, seeing what would have been my daughters in her, I lost it. But it was brief, and I found that I was able to listen to the readings.
The priest was uninspiring and robotic in his homily. I remember last year being very moved by the words of the homily; this year was nothing original or personal. It did not feel the need I had for a spiritual connection. The only word that caught my attention was “community”: that we were gathered as a community to remember those who have gone before us.
Driving home in the continued rain, I was listening to Les Miserables, likely a bad choice on my part.
But there are dreams that cannot be. And there are storms we cannot weather. I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.
-from ‘Les Miserables’