where do we go from here
Three simple pieces of paper, one mission. It seemed impossible. Too big to be contained on paper.
Somewhere in my collection of notebooks and papers and file folders, I still have those pieces of paper. They became my constant companions over the weeks and months that followed that first fateful tea with Max.
It took me nearly three months to get something on each page. More went onto the “do not believe” page faster. Maybe I had thought more about that all along, maybe I was just becoming aware of things that I never really believed anyway, but professed because I thought it was part of the whole package.
Among the things I rejected out of hand in those early days were eternal punishment and the exclusivity of heaven.
One of the things I despised about my former beliefs , and by extension of that myself, was the dismissal of any and all who did not believe as we did. To lay judgment on others, to determine that another Christian was not Christian enough, or that a Jew could not have a personal relationship with God because they did not embrace Christ, had always felt…wrong to me.
And yet, it was a part of my thought process. Even after walking away.
So much was changing for me at that moment in time, and one of those things was a return to things I had loved, and discarded for my faith. The biggest of those was reading. I have always been a voracious and precocious reader. At nine I discovered Tolkien and by thirteen I was reading Heinlein and Asimov. I have a love of science fiction and fantasy, and in those months I returned to it.
I was re-reading an old favorite, the Deryni series by Katherine Kurtz, when I had an epiphany. For those unaware, the series is set in a Europe-like land in medieval times, where the Catholic church is preeminent and controls much of daily life. There was a scene in which one of the characters was preparing for ordination as a priest.
Told from his point of view, the scene paints a man of faith, of devotion to his God, of a passion to serve. This was a man my belief would have me dismiss as not Christian at all, but Pagan. Lost. Damned. And yet, I was seeing something I had never seen before.
Despite the fact that this was a fictional account of a fictional man, it touched me. It made me think. I knew the feelings Ms. Kurtz was describing. I knew that passion to serve. I knew that devotion to God, that calling to do what you must despite the dangers.
When I talked about this with Max in what had become our weekly tea and talk time, he listened and patted my head and smiled. “Well then, you’re on your way, aren’t you?” Max said.
Okay, so even I could tell I had begun some sort of journey. The question was, where was I going?