Author: Unprodigal Daughter

The eternal hum

Some blessed hearts remind us

In a breathless papyrus whisper

Or in a laud of praise

Even the sanctified itinerary

It simulates the ubiquitous thrumming

Others remind us in the harvest

With hues of golds and amber

Even the scientist intimates it

When the spark of light surges

And we start at the beginning again

The tranquility of the stream mirrors it

But so does the crash of the earthquake

It can be heard in a simple cricket trill

And in the surge of the tornado

It is somehow placid but explosive

Every clangor of a parade

Every thrash in a mosh pit

Every child with a stick

The variations are endless

But they expose the same truth

It is uncovered in a flower’s bloom

We affirm it in the moon’s rise and fall

The engine that fuels all of us

Denies our self-contained egoism

Constructed or organic; the beat goes on.

Listen

As the warmth rises up in morning glory,

I ponder in quiet curiosity

I ponder like the Mother did

when greeted by the sweet emissary

I plant like a statue and yearn

I wait for heaven to present herself

The course is unknown and winding

In truth it is never-ending

The divine courier places a message in my palm

But the page is nearly blank

Except for a word in bold—

“Listen” She tells me

Listen to the echo of the Great I Am

It subsists in every soul you meet

Every being is a piece of the Infinite Puzzle

And your purpose lies within their words

Every pain, pleasure, insight, and inquiry

All connections with the perceived other

They led you to the present moment

To the most authentic you

Devote yourself to the service of others

For I told you the last shall be first

In time your heart will become cloudless

But first you must listen

Transmuting pain into love

There you were before me

As though no time had passed

I couldn’t look at you like before

All I could feel was regret

 

I remembered the confusion

The shame and the guilt

The feelings of lack

The heavy weight in my gut

 

A series of accusations washed over me

As I blamed you for my hurt

I only view you as my other

As I wallowed in my pain

 

But the time had come for this to end

And the Creator revealed a miracle

She showed me your true self

It was pure and gleaming gold

 

She told me to make you into a child

She said this is what She sees

Your innocence beamed through the ether

You were an extension of Her

 

I saw all of your intentions

And your many anxieties

The Creator showed me why this happened

It had a greater purpose

 

The chasm between us expedited growth

We divided—but it was merely an illusion

Love is always with us

Forever compassionate for the other soul

 

I shed cleansing tears and freed my heart

I picked you up and held you close to my chest

As we embraced, we were shielded from the past

Gone were the feelings of resentment and fear

 

I put you down and you grew up again

You showed yourself in shining white

You spun around in circles

Dancing freely in the sand

 

I grabbed your hands and we spun together

The joy expanded a hundred miles

We may never return to what was before

But love will guide us from now on

Integration of the darkness

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, and it’s amazing to see how far my mindset has changed in a year or so. I barely agree with my past self anymore.

Anyway…I’ve decided I need to use this page more for my experiences and feelings that may be deemed “mystical” (or not–these are my words only). In particular, I’ve gained a lot of spiritual insight while in the dreamstate. 

Last night, I encountered what some may call a low vibrational entity, or simply a dark presence. Whenever this happens, I instinctively call for Mother Mary’s assistance. In a brief poem, this was my experience:

Pins and needles instilled a panic in my heart

I felt the vast, void, separation from the light

Inescapable loneliness, breathless fear

Where could I go? I was nothing without You

All of the deceits of this world piled on my soul


The disconnection overcame my sisters

But they didn’t know You as well as I

And they didn’t know that You could free us

If only we freed ourselves

If only we knew that we could
The irksome prattling of the talking heads

And the hailing of lower vibratory frequencies

Repeated the lies to a naive public

What were they hiding from us?

That’s how we got here in the first place
When I met my final threshold

And the hopelessness deemed itself victorious

I remembered who I was

I remembered what the void was

I reintegrated the shadow into my being
I reclaimed my strength for myself

I reclaimed it for my sisters and their liberation

I blessed the separation

I blessed that which tortured me

I remembered that we were One
In the lifting of the veil I felt my freedom

I no longer needed protection

It was protection that supported the illusion

Love was all that could exist 

Even in the darkest places

In a realization of self-sovereignty

I cried out to the Divine Mother

I could see her luminous face

She sat atop a musty placard

“Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is With You…”

Be brave. Choose love.

Today is a very hard day for a lot of us. It is also an exciting day for some of us. As a fairly progressive millennial, this is an extremely difficult day for nearly anyone in my social circle. So let’s just take this piece by piece. 
First of all, a great deal of you voted for who I was told for the past year is the absolute enemy. I was told that “anybody” that supported the new president elect is a racist, sexist, homophobic islamophobic jerk. For a small, dangerous percentage of you, this is absolutely true. My advice to you is to surrender to the Light of God. I realize that much of what you believe begins with fear. But fear is not God’s love. Maybe you do not believe in God, but if you do, know that family values will remain if we go home and spend time with our families, not if we change laws that say two people who are in love can no longer marry. There is no sense in concerning ourselves with what other people’s families look like–it does not effect our own. National security will remain intact if we promote peace and attempt to negotiate with other nations–fearing Muslim countries and Mexican immigrants does not solve any problems we have regarding immigration, or terrorism. We must be rational and reasonable. We must not generalize. Fear achieves nothing. Violence achieves even less. You will continue to live in fear until you surrender your heart to God.
To the rest of the Trump supporters who do not fall into the category above: I’m sure you discerned carefully as to why you voted the way you did. I am sorry if you are experiencing hatred. Please understand that while you may have chosen Trump for economic reasons that have nothing to do with gender, race, sexuality or religion, that the reality is that most members of minority groups are now scared that they are at risk. Please give them the peace of mind that you are on their side. If you voted for Trump for your own religious freedom, please tell a Muslim that they have the right to their own. Be an example. Treat others with love just like you’d like us to do with you. You will put so many people’s hearts at ease. 
To everyone else, particularly those who are now in fear: We will get through this. If you are white, stand up against aggression towards Muslims and minorities. Use your privilege for good. Start getting involved in the political process. Help change our government (that goes for everybody else as well). 
If you are a woman: You are a PERSON especially loved by God, who is both feminine and masculine. Use the strength of the divine feminine that I know is within you to stand up against sexual violence. If you have been hurt by assault or harassment and you are mourning that the country does not care about you, that is not true. Half of this country did not vote for Trump. And if all else fails, I STAND WITH YOU. We are stronger together.
If you do not have privilege as a minority religion or race and this has been hard for you to read because you are in literal fear for your life, please remember that there are good people out there. There are good people who plan to continue to fight against that which divides us. I support you. Clinton supporters are with you. Sanders supporters are with you. I imagine even obscure third party supporters are with you. You are NOT alone. If you feel unsafe, please let an ally know if there is anything we can do to help you. If you need physical protection or you just need to know that there are privileged people who are on your side, let us know what we can do. If you want us to shut up and check our privilege, let us know. As Americans, WE ARE A COMMUNITY. And we will not leave you behind. 
More than anything, I’d like to say this: Life is not over. Evil has not won. Don’t let fear destroy your ability to love and move forward. Don’t be afraid. United we stand, but divided we fall. Forgive those who disagree with you. Forgive those who promote divisiveness. Find strength and peace in the love of God. I know it’s hard to hear, I know you may read this and think, “but she’s a white Christian!” And I get it. But I don’t want you to lose hope. We’ve been through worse than this and we will continue on.
When President Obama was elected, we thought a lot of change would happen quickly. Some republicans were terrified. But the fact is that change happened very slowly, and in some cases not at all. The government works for us. The government shut down before, and it can happen again. We are Trump’s boss. And he’s going to learn what it means to work hard to keep us happy. That is his job. As long as we promote the common good, we will succeed. But as long as we let fear win, we will continue to live in chaos. 
We can do this, America. ❤️
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Cor. 16:13

Finding My Vocation: My Journey to the Episcopal Church and Discernment to the Priesthood

Discernment

Discernment and vocation are buzzwords in many Christian denominations today. In my profession, I hear those words so much that they almost become tiresome…Fulfill your call. Respond to God. Say yes. Be like the Virgin Mary. Be like the Apostles. Be like the Saints. Follow Christ fully.

I had a yearning to find my place and my vocation, but I didn’t know it. Many would describe me as opinionated, sassy, and strong—but deep in my heart these descriptors were meaningless because I didn’t know where I belonged.

I was raised a Roman Catholic, and attended nineteen years of Catholic school. The Catholic Church did so much for me. I learned about how God could be present in all aspects of life through the Roman Church. From the decor in my house, to the social groups I was a part of, nearly everything in my life had roots in the Roman Catholic Church.

However, I had a spiritual conflict in my heart my entire life as I learned to respond to my vocational call. I always believed that I had a call to the priesthood, and church teachings said that call was invalid. So instead of striving for holiness and devoting my entire self to God, I behaved selfishly. I acted out, particularly in the department of romantic relationships. I involved myself with people that would pull me further away from God, and I would rationalize my irresponsible behavior, because I figured I didn’t really have to take the church seriously if I couldn’t be a priest. I could have wandered like that for decades without ever acting like my own spiritual growth was necessary if I didn’t learn that I could fulfill my vocation elsewhere.

You Cannot Fulfill Your Vocation if Not All Vocations Are Available to You

Everybody has something that they were absolutely born to do. Until each person finds that unique vocation (and it does not have to be working for the church!), he or she will not feel complete. As a priest told me today, until we fulfill our vocations, we do not feel like we are “fully ourselves.” In this culture, we are taught that fulfillment comes from things outside of ourselves— a romantic partner, wealth and fame, a fancy title, etc. So many of us never take the chance on life to be who God truly intended for us to be because we only look externally for happiness.

That is why it is absolutely essential that all Christian churches (and spiritual/religious communities in general) offer the same opportunities to everyone. You cannot fulfill your call from God if you do not have all the options to do so. For the churches that have not yet embraced full gender equality, you are only hurting yourselves. Instead of getting the best possible candidates in your various ministries, you are limiting your options to only half. This percentage gets even smaller with the denominations that marginalize members of the LGBT community. We are created in God’s image—so that must mean that God is a little bit of all of us: Woman, man, gay, straight, trans, cis, disabled or not, etc. Today I experienced the beauty of God’s diversity in vocations AND in people—multiple races, ages, orientations, and genders, living out their call from God in distinctive ways, from ordination, to vowed religious, to those exploring a life of simplicity as a layperson. Any and every vocation was open to all who were seeking it.

As I heard the stories of each person, I realized that in order to discern, you have to try things out. In order to say “no” to certain things, you first have to say, “well, let’s just check this out.” Sometimes it resulted in an adamant “absolutely not,” but the point was they were allowed to seek it. God does not discriminate, and neither should the Church. I am not suggesting that this happens to everyone, but for those who are called but are not validated, the Church runs the risk of causing spiritual death.

You Cannot Fight for Justice if You Are Experiencing Injustice

As I previously mentioned, before I realized that my call could be fulfilled in places other than the Roman Church, I behaved immaturely. My immaturity was not simply irresponsible actions, but it also played out in bitterness, divisiveness, and cynicism. My heart was cold and judgmental. I found myself resenting the men in my life who were accepted into the seminary (some who were my close friends since childhood). I even found myself resenting my own father who became an ordained deacon while I was in college. I blamed these men for my pain—I accused them of being contributors by their silence (even though it was clear that even those who agreed with me had little power over the matter).

I became so wrapped up in my own injustice that I never looked outward at the injustices that Jesus asks us to fight. I ignored the Gospel message. I was half-assing Christianity. The world is full of people in pain, and while my pain was valid, mine was not the only pain. My bitterness was keeping me from responding to my baptismal call.

You Cannot Discern if You Have Not Healed Wounds

In my time of many romantic dysfunctional relationships, I didn’t recognize the pattern that was happening. Unfortunately, I  experienced a cycle of emotional and physical abuse with multiple boyfriends. I wallowed in my victimhood, and felt very much that I deserved what I experienced. While I was not conscious of it at the time, the root cause was the same as the cause of my bitterness—misogyny in Christ’s Church.

When the Church holds misogynistic ideologies, that sends a message to society that sexism is okay. When the Church does not treat women as full members, then the strong, devout women will believe that spiritual, emotional, and sometimes physical harm is what they deserve.

I have always called myself a feminist and spoken out for women’s rights, but each time I ended up wounded by another failed relationship, I felt the same as the existential crisis as the Church made me feel. I felt that I was a worthless mistake. If only I was the kind of woman the Church wanted, then I would be the kind of woman that men respected. It was a long road before I realized that it was not all my fault, and that I was not seeing my own worth. When I recognized that I was internalizing the misogyny I was experiencing, I was able to move away from it to the next step of growth.

You Cannot Discern Without Taking Responsibility for Your Actions

After my final horrible relationship, I had hit rock bottom. I was numb—simply a shell of who I once believed I was meant to be. As scary as it was, it was exactly where the Holy Spirit had intended to put me. None of us are without struggle, and that just happened to be the struggle that God threw at me. It was only at that rock bottom point did I start to see who I truly was inside. At my lowest point, I remember feeling myself beneath the external—I existed beyond what was happening to me—I existed beyond the spiritual and physical abuse. It was not me—it was not who I was designed to be. It was simply a challenge in life. With this revelation, I began to grow into a new me. I embraced my support system and I started to awaken to new ideas, new philosophies, and new ways to experience God.

I realized that my wounds were real and valid, but I was not an innocent person in the events that took place. I believed that there was no other way to holiness other than remaining in the Roman branch of Christ’s Church. I had my heart closed to all other possibilities out of fear. What if I could not find employment? What if the Roman Church really was correct and I would be sacrificing my immortal soul for something selfish?

Finally I recognized that I had to go with my gut, and that there has never been a saint in history who didn’t face opposition, disagreements, risks, and uncertainty. God had been calling me since childhood to the priesthood, and I could not change what was out of my control. I could continue to be bitter, angry, irresponsible, and blame it all on the Big Bad Roman Catholic Church, or I could follow the righteous path of the Gospels.

We are all familiar with the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

I could not change the Roman Catholic Church’s ideology—I was only one person. But I could change who I was—I could go from identifying solely with my religious affiliation to becoming someone who embraced Love as a lifestyle. My wisdom came in when I realized I had to let the bitterness go. I do not agree with the RCC’s teachings on ordination, but I love the RCC and what it did for me. I love my Roman Catholic sisters and brothers. I am not here to battle anybody anymore. I will support my sisters in Christ as they continue their long journey to equality, but is not my vocation to fight that battle.

The Roman Catholic Church held me back, but my sins were my sins. My actions were my actions. At any point in time I could have left, but I hid behind the Catholic Church and made excuses for myself. If you want to be happy and fulfill your vocation, you have to make a change. You have to take responsibility. You have to take control of your life.

When You Have Found Your Path, You Must Go With Love and Forgiveness

Ultimately, I believe that all Christian churches desperately need to embrace full participation of women (and members of the LGBT community). However, I forgive the churches that don’t. Church politics is a complicated thing—the Church—especially the Roman Catholic Church—tends to embrace changes like a slowly moving ship. It can be frustrating and heart-wrenching at times, but when it comes down to it, the members of the other denominations are still your family. We are all one Body of Christ.

Each Christian community contributes to the Body in a special way, and each part helps make the whole more complete. There are problems and successes in all denominations, and it is our job to figure out where we fit. This is nothing new—just open the New Testament and you will find a lot of diversity in Paul’s letters to various communities. No one is better than anyone else. We all have the same God and are created in that God’s image. What works for you does not work for me, and that is important to understand.

Tomorrow I will be received into the Episcopal Church, and I couldn’t be happier. It is not only because I will be able to apply to the seminary that I am joyful, but I am so happy that I finally found a place that feels like home. I do not have to be combative—I can just be myself. I don’t have to whisper behind closed doors that I feel called to the priesthood. I can shout it on the rooftops (and I plan to do so!).  If you find your vocation in the Roman Catholic Church, that is wonderful! But if there is anyone out there struggling like I was, please consider opening your heart to other options. And for those of you that do not wish to leave your denomination but you disagree with the inequality in your church, stand up, and speak out! You are blessed, you are loved, and you matter. Maybe your vocation is to fight for that change. There are so many great people who may not be meeting their potential because of church politics, and you can be the one that gives them a voice. It was not my call to fight for change, but I will be cheering you on from afar.

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)

Mary of Nazareth: The Best Fit for the Job

The Blessed Virgin, the Holy Mother, Mother Mary, the Mother of God, Theotokos, etc. These are just a few of many the names given to the mother of Jesus Christ–Mary of Nazareth. Her influence on the sphere of Christian spirituality is far-reaching, whether you consider yourself to be a low-Church Protestant or a huge fan of the Argentinian Jesuit living in Vatican City.

However, regardless of your personal view of Mariology, there is a common denominator in most descriptions of Mary: She had humility. This concept is everywhere, and it is not simply in highly traditional Catholic or Orthodox communities. For example, I have a non-denominational poster in my bedroom that says “Mary, Mother of Jesus: With Gentleness and Humility She Accepted God’s Plan for Her Life.” Also, my favorite religious order, a non-cloistered, progressive, environmentally conscious group of women, is called the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. Neither of these examples are from “radically traditional” sources. It is clear that Mary’s humble nature is a common theological concept.

If the humility of Mary is taken as an demonstration for us to see that we are all equally called to avoid boastfulness and pride, and to understand that we do not exist alone, then Mary’s humility is a very good thing. We are all interconnected, and excessive pride makes us think that we stand by ourselves. Humility could correct this problem. On the other hand, humility has disproportionately been used as a means to make women submissive, to lessen their roles in spirituality and society, and to create divisiveness.

In addition, an overemphasis on humility can cause us to question confidence, certainty, and the notion that possibilities are limitless. We feel too unworthy to ask God for what we really want, and when we do ask, we do not believe that we will really get it. But there is no reason why I cannot believe I am deserving of what I want if I have loving intention behind my desire. There is no reason for me to wait for God to write a customized billboard that says “I choose you! You may have what you prayed for!” There is also no reason for me to accept circumstances that I am unhappy with–I can change them if I rely on love and remain in God’s frequency. Humility should not mean that I must be unfulfilled.

Now, let’s look at a different aspect of Mary’s personality. In the Gospel story of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38), we see Mary “humbly accept” God’s plan for her: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be done according to your word” (v. 38). We know that this was a frightening encounter–Mary is having a mystical experience, just like the prophets who came before her. However, there is an important aspect missing from her response to God’s call–she lacks hesitation. She only asks how it can be done, since she is a virgin, but she never says, “Please God, pick someone else!” In contrast, God’s most significant prophet of the Jewish Testament does not believe he is fit for the job: “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'” (Ex 3:11).

Mary does not say “I am unfit, I am unworthy, I am unholy.” She merely asks a biological question, and then she accepts. That does not sound excessively humble, but rather fiercely confident. Mary could have been stoned to death for being pregnant and unwed, but she knew she was right for the job of God-bearer. The Holy Mother fit in no one’s spiritual or social box. Mary was not a man, she was not wealthy, and she was not educated, but she never acted like she was beneath her role. She thrived at being the greatest prophet to ever live, as the first to believe in Jesus, and the first to tell others to do so. Mary knew that all things were possible if she believed them to be, because God would make all things possible for her. Mary held her head high and took a chance.

There is definitely a place for humility, and it is certainly a quality that the Mother of God possesses, but it is a missed opportunity to skip over her self-assurance, her boldness, and her fearlessness. These are the qualities that we should teach our daughters, and these are the qualities that will help us fulfill our own vocations. We do not need to be uncertain, bashful, or lowly, we need to lift ourselves up and do what we are called to do. Society will not always agree with our decision, but Mary’s society did not agree with hers, either.Esmond-Lyons-A-Modern-Mary

Art by Esmond Lyons: A Modern Mary