How do you cultivate magic and wonder?
Perhaps it was a budding bloom, or a child’s observation, your heart skipping a beat when you stood under a tree bursting with the colors of Autumn. Tell us about a time in 2013 where you found yourself in awe of the wonder and/or magic around you. Did you have enough of these moments in the past year? How do you plan on cultivating more of these moments in 2014?
This past June, I went to France and Portugal with my parents, as a sort of healing pilgrimage for my dad.
At the time, I was a lost, non-practicing Catholic who had not gone to church for quite some time, and suddenly I found myself thrown into the heart of Catholicism as we toured Lourdes and Fatima.
Initially I was a bit overwhelmed (and yes, I’ll admit it, perhaps even a bit annoyed) at all of the churches, and praying – I wasn’t ready for it. I even joked with my tour guide at Lourdes – when my candle wouldn’t light I said it was because God was confused at why I was there. But all joking aside, I was uncomfortable – I hadn’t experienced that much religion in my life for a really long time.
By the end of the trip, however, I was no longer annoyed and skeptical. No, I actually enjoyed going to these holy places. I was in awe at how devout these folks who visited these places were, and how strong of a faith they had to travel thousands of miles to get there. At a time when my faith was pretty much nonexistent, I wondered if someday I might have what they have, if I would ever find myself in that sort of place again.
I was particularly struck at Fatima. There was this path, that led from the top of a hill all the way down to the Chapel of Apparitions. And people would walk on their knees to get there, as an act of devotion to our Lady of Fatima. I thought, “wow, that’s so hard core.” And I think it planted a seed in me, in terms of asking myself what have I done for God lately.
The seed didn’t take root until months later, after my dad had passed away. Again I felt lost and confused, and I didn’t know where else to turn. It wasn’t until my sister invited me to her church that I felt some sort of peace. I decided that perhaps I should give this church thing another try, and I thank God that I did.
My mother told her priest that while my dad was sick, he said that his suffering wasn’t in vain, and that if it could bring one person back to God, he would do it. He probably had no idea that it would be his own daughter. His death, in a way, has brought me new life. All circumstances aside, I am much happier, and I have found an amazing church community to help me on my journey.
So yes, traveling to holy lands and foreign places can instill a sense of wonder and awe, but beyond that, I am amazed by people of strong faith, whether it is my mother, or my pastors at church. I know I can get there, but I also know that it will take time. I’m ready though, and I look forward to seeing how 2014 will play out in that regard.