exploring life and love with pictures and words

Keeping the faith . . .

IMG_9898

Since arriving in Italy, I have spent a good amount of time visiting churches, cathedrals and even an abbey. It’s not unusual for me to pass a few churches in a single day. My power walks, errand running and shopping have all been interrupted by my desire to visit these peaceful sanctuaries for even the tiniest bit of silent beauty. I rarely walk by without stopping for a moment of quiet reflection. I love small neighborhood churches, and often visit more than once.

I take plenty of photographs, particularly drawn to stained glass, angels and captured light. Naturally I do this to chronicle my journey. I also love sharing the beauty of this experience on social media. Still, taking pictures on hallowed grounds, while permissible, always feels a little strange to me, so I created a respectful exchange. An exchange that has strengthened my faith. I always make a small donation and do my best to learn about the church’s history. I honor my Catholic upbringing by blessing myself and genuflecting before the altar, and then I sit in silence and pray.

I pray for our world, humankind, my most precious peeps, and me. I talk to God, the Virgin Mary, my parents, a cast of great spiritual leaders, and the Universe. Somehow I am sure God doesn’t mind sharing the stage.

My relationship with religion, God and faith has had its ups and downs. I stopped attending mass years and years ago believing I wasn’t good enough, I had made too many unforgivable mistakes to belong. Regret, guilt and shame had a hold on me for far too long. I wanted a change. So, I created a spiritual practice aligned to my beliefs, love first, be grateful, forgive, forgo judgement, have faith, trust God and the Universe, and surrender control.

As simple as it sounds, it required thoughtful and purposeful practice. Loving and forgiving myself were the hardest. I learned to let go of regret and the worn-out stories that held me hostage to a certain kind of life. In the still moments of reflection I grew stronger and closer to my authentic self, proudly acknowledging the gifts I had to share. My mistakes no longer defined me, I’d come a long way.

I am faithful to my practice, sitting in ancient churches far from home grateful for my life and this journey. I give a shout out to God and the Universe to send a little love and light to the ones I love the most. I ask for strength to love and value every human life, even the ones I don’t like because we are all worthy of love and belonging, every single one of us.

Love, gratitude, forgiveness, and faith have been the paths from which I found my greatest strength, the courage to change the course of my life forever . . . to make it better

Keep the faith . . .
Xoc

 

13 Responses to “Keeping the faith . . .”

  1. Phyllis Kerlin

    Beautiful, Christine
    I miss you.
    I feel far away from home and I sometimes imagine us together in this world, just walking and looking at things. Always pointing, sometimes commenting.
    I love your sanctuary studies. Thank you for sharing your journey.
    Xop

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Kelly

    Love this Christine, “I ask for strength to love and value every human life, even the ones I don’t like because we are all worthy of love and belonging, every single one of us.” Thank you for that today. Sending a hug across the miles.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Judy Jennings-Gunther

    It is interesting that you stepped away from the church when you needed it the most……..I started going back to mass two years ago for my sister. I would pray, and pray for her that her marriage would survive a foolish mistake. She couldn’t believe that I would do that for her, that she didn’t deserve it. It is interesting that my other sisters started going back to mass and praying for her too….(we never mentioned to each other that we were doing that, I found out from mom)..Her relationship has healed…..Maybe all of us that love her so much and prayed so hard for her helped. Who knows…the power of prayer is amazing. I love, love going to cathedrals. They are such perfect places to be calm and reflect, almost meditative.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  4. Judy Jennings-Gunther

    Unfortunately I think that is very common. I learned at at young age to ask for help….especially from boys and men. They love to feel needed. But who doesn’t???? Another story then I must do some dishes so Basil will have some room to make his delicious French onion soup….Years ago I was at the beach watching a women carry several large, heavy, awkward pieces of driftwood. Her guy was just strolling along empty handed. Of course I was compelled to say something. “So you are not going to help her carry anything?” He said, “It is her idea” So then I said, “You know that that looks bad right?” hahaahh dick! She is a fool to be with someone like that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: