My own path in Catholicism changed dramatically when I made one heart felt prayer in utter frustration. Not terribly surprising I suppose but it came in the Spring of 2003, when I was up to my ears in the clerical abuse scandal. I had been teaching high school CCD, was on another diocesan board and was a daily communicant. As time went on I kept slamming into the understanding that with most of my fellow Catholics, even though I engaged in the same kind of service, and the same sacramental practices, I was not operating from the same mind set. If I had to try to explain this I guess I would say I was moving towards something--I didn't really know what--and others around me seemed to be at ease and comforted by what they had. In view of the abuse scandal I had no patience with this attitude at all. My lack of patience wasn't helped any by the fact I was privy to too much information about our own diocese.
I tried to tell myself that maybe they had found their vocation and I was still searching, or somehow the answers coming from the hierarchy worked for them and for some personal reason those answers were not enough for me. Except on a profound level I could feel things shifting in my relationship with Catholicism. Not with Jesus, but with Catholicism. There was something about Catholicism that was seriously out of whack. So in utter frustration, I demanded to know where I was supposed to go with this Catholic spirituality thing of mine. What good was it, if all it did was mess with my mind and heart.
With in days my life started to get more interesting and much more challenging, but in a good way. I also saw if I was ever to get where I was going, I wasn't going to be given a map. Of if I did get one, it was going to be mostly blank except for a little bit around the spot where I was at any given moment in place and time. I had to trust, to have faith, that there was a higher guiding intelligence behind me and that no matter how weird it would get, it was as it was meant to be. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace with that and so I gave consent. The "Thy will be done kind of thing". I wish I had a dollar for everytime from then on I would look at myself in the mirror and think "You are an idiot."
I understood that I was going on an extended pilgrimage of sorts in which I would experience how things used to be and how Jesus intended them. From this I was to begin a process of understanding where mankind might need to go. The first concrete sign things were changing showed up in my photography. All of a sudden I was getting orbs in a third of my shots. My profile photo is one of the very first I ever took, and it's also one of the clearest. That particular photo was a shot of a stained glass window depicting St Helena finding the true cross. It later dawned on me that this first photo might have been a metaphorical message of what this pilgrimage of mine was all about. Me being me, I'm not looking at it that way at all.
I thought for sure the phenomenon would show up around the Constantine window because Constantine's mystical conversion is when Catholicism really took off. I burned up maybe 200 or so shots in attempts to get a photo of an orb around the Constantine conversion window. I wanted validation for my thoughts. I somewhat failed to see I was getting validation because I didn't want to think about that kind of validation. Thank god you can delete digital photos because I was persistent. It has never happened to this day. It's always St Helena, and never Constantine.
Native elders say that an experience such as this one has layers with in layers with in layers. These kinds of experiences rarely lend themselves to an obvious surface explanation. When the Ancestors, or maybe in this case, the Communion of Saints and Angels, breaks through with this kind of message it always has many many meanings. Some of them are personal and some of them are for the tribe. The most powerful and important visions or experiences always center on messages for the good of the tribe. I'll let my readers think about what the universal messages might be.
For me personally St Helena represented a coming pilgrimage through a culture I wasn't familiar with on a similar search for meaning in the life of Christ and His teachings. The hopeful part of the message is in the end St Helena found what she was looking for--at least in a believable sense to her. I think the same thing holds true for all of us. More to come.......