When I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, in my mid thirties, I stood on very shaky ground. I stepped into a little church in Southborough, Massachusetts. It was white walled, high ceilinged, with a couple vases of colorful flowers tastefully accenting the space. Flute music was playing. It was a weekday morning and I was on a two week medical leave from my newly acquired middle school/ high school teaching job in Hopedale due to my fragile state.
I opened the bible on the dais to Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in.”
It gave me much needed buoying and courage.
Thus began a journey for me that led to my being baptized into the catholic faith in 1994. I intentionally use the lower case ‘c’ because I consider the word in its original definition ‘including a wide variety of things; all embracing.’ Synonyms are ‘universal, diverse, wide, broad, broad-based, eclectic, liberal’ – to name a few.
These twenty something years later I have come back to my original ecumenical state though with a broader understanding of spiritual and religious orientations, now having delved more fully and deeply into one. But it seems to me, even though there are quite vocal, visible religious practitioners in all religions who do not seem to me to be espousing love, religions and spiritual practices I have come to learn something about are centered around love.
I have learned a couple things from studying the christian bible – In Job 36:26 it says god is beyond our understanding – so I take that literally – I can not truly understand (or know) that force. The bible says ‘God is Love’ – logic tells us ‘if – then’; so Love can be used fully in place of God. So I substitute ‘Love’ for ‘God’ and I know for me, love is my religion. Which, by the way, I do not practice perfectly.