In Gratitude of the Divine Gift
Having been raised Catholic, I've always celebrated the traditional holy days of obligation, i.e. Christmas and Easter. Of course, through years of Sunday School and Catholic Education, receiving the sacraments and attending mass every Sunday, I have always known what we were celebrating, and I knew why, to a general extent. I would always dutifully give something up for Lent (one year I unsuccessfully attempted to give up cheese) and have my forehead smudged with ashes, but the year was different. Through a shift in thought, I was able to experience this Easter celebration from a new lens, one of glowing, awakened grace.
In mid December, my dark shadow of despair stood near by, digging up some of my deep emotional trauma and on a particularly bleak, gray, depressing day, through tear soaked eyes, I went on a walk through my neighborhood. I walked slowly, head down, hands in the pockets of my hoodie, black rimmed wayfarers hiding my mascara stained cheeks. I just couldn't get a grip.
I walked past an Episcopal church in my neighborhood. Desperate to quiet my mental anguish, I walked up to the heavy wooded and stained-glass church doors, hoping that I could enter and find a quiet pew to sit in and weep. I had never been in this church before. In fact, it had been several years since I'd been in a church at all. I just assumed that they were always open for people in my condition to find solace.
The front door was locked so I tried the side door. It was locked as well. A defeated emotion washed over me as I took a seat on the curb in the church parking lot. I leaned on my dark shadow, still choked up with tears. When I saw the priest walk by, I stood up so he wouldn't see me, but something pushed me toward him and out of nowhere, I found enough confidence to ask when I could go into the church. He noticed that I had been crying and invited me into a communion Mass that they were about to hold. I accepted his invitation and sat in the back pew, wiping tears from my eyes with a damp, crumbly tissue.
After the Mass, the priest waited for me on the front lawn. I spoke briefly about what had made me so upset and then he asked me something that I cannot recall anyone ever asking me before. "May I give you a blessing?"
Without thinking, I nodded, "yes."
He placed his hand on my shoulders and began to speak toward the sky. He asked God to listen and he spoke with powerful conviction; he could feel my emotions. He knew what kind of pain I was experiencing. I felt embarrassed at first, worried that the passers by would wonder what was going on, why this poor pathetic woman was standing in front of a church on a Wednesday afternoon, being blessed by a priest. Then suddenly I was struck with an emotion I had never felt before. A glowing orb had entered my soul and connected me to an energy that highlighted everything in my presence. My knees buckled and I felt both weight and weightlessness hover over my chest and suddenly I was filled with a warmth that I never knew existed. I wiped the tears from my eyes and simply smiled and nodded at the priest. I thanked him and turned away to walk home. Through that blessing, I had been given a gift that would forever change my outlook and with each step I took, I felt lighter, as if heavy stones were cascading from my shoulders and crumbling to the ground behind me.
Throughout the course of the day, everything that caused me to invite my dark shadow of despair to dig deeper and deeper into the trauma that I'd buried in the depths of my soul, suddenly took on a new light. I started to understand my pain from a new perspective and from that moment on, a bright shining light has been beaming down on my spirit, allowing me to reevaluate my faith and consider new ways to accept my talents and my purpose.
When the Lenten season fell upon me this year, I wanted to experience it for it's whole intention, rather than an obligatory pseudo-sacrifice, so instead of giving up something irrelevant, I decided to read from the Bible every night with the end goal to understand Catholicism for it's true purpose.
In the early morning hours on Easter Sunday, I finished reading the Gospel of Matthew and had indeed garnered a new perspective toward the meaning of Easter Sunday. As I reflect on all that I've learned since that dark, misty, shadow laden day in mid December, when I was asked if I would like to receive a blessing, and when I think about all that has transpired since then, from the amazing accomplishments to the things that I wish I would have done or said differently, I now understand the magnitude of the gift that we are given through the Divine sacrifice. I now recognize that this sacrifice has granted us an awakening, a revival of new thoughts and ideas. Before me lies a spiritual renaissance; a time to reset my body, mind and soul with new hope, faith and knowledge that even in my darkest hours, I will not be forsaken.