I’m overwhelmed with thoughts of Jesus.
Jesus and God and Christianity and the Lord’s Prayer and compassion and forgiveness and hope and judgement and freedom from judgement and all of the things which made (and make) me feel connected to the Sacred.
I don’t know what to do with all of this.
It started when I saw a woman sitting on the sidewalk next to her shopping cart. She was filthy and small, and she looked deeply tired. Bringing her food I asked,
“How are you?”
She looked up at me, a bit surprised at having been spoken to or asked after. She thought for a moment.
“I’m recovering,” she said somberly.
My heart broke a little. It wasn’t the response I expected. It was so vulnerable, and honest. Her statement felt unfathomably large, as though she was recovering from all of the things that had ever been done to her.
She seemed grateful for the attention, and for the food.
“God bless you,” she said, sincerely.
My heart broke some more.
I headed off, feeling heavier in my boots.
Further down the path, I heard the call of a crow. I looked up and saw it sitting on top of a telephone pole. I thought of the Morrigan.
I felt a bit jarred. The crow seemed to take notice, and then began to fly.
I walked in the direction of the crow, uncertain. Walking in the other direction on the opposite side of the street was a man holding a book under his arm. There was a yarmulka on his head. He looked at me, probing. Are you a part of my tribe? I looked similar to many of the Orthodox men walking through the neighborhood, but not an exact match. Close, but not close enough.
The words sink a little deeper.
Am I a part of his tribe?
There is this dialogue running in me that keeps returning to the religion of my youth and young adulthood; to the man who was the subject of so many of my conversations. There is also my Paganism, built and cultivated over the past four or five years. It is young and lacking the same kind of deep root system I developed in my Christianity, but it is still a part of me now.
My Druidic studies are calling me to look at the world as an enchanted, alive, vibrant and magical place. There’s a shortage of that perspective these days. Meditating on these ideas brings me peace. But then I see someone who is broken, or damaged, or simply doing their best to not fall apart, and I think back to the lessons of compassion and kindness I learned in the Church. I feel compelled to love other people without reservation. I feel compelled to offer them respite. I feel compelled to feed them, to care for them, to treat them with dignity and respect.
These are the desires that rise up out of my memories of the Lord’s Prayer, or the stories of Jesus. These are the principles that I valued about my Christianity.
And I don’t know what to do with all of this reflection, or how to talk about it. I don’t think I’m becoming a hard-core or born again Christian, or even a Christo-Pagan. But there is a softening inside of me that feels directly connected to Jesus and to the language of mystical and contemplative Christianity.
Just the other day, after a similar encounter with an old woman on the street in Portland, I had the thought —
“I’m going to go ahead and believe in God.”
The thought came into my head before I could censor it.
A few days later I polished a Celtic cross that I’d picked up a few years back. It’s a replica of one I saw on pilgrimage in Ireland, the place where I first found Brighid. I hung the cross around my neck beside my Awen and acorn pendants. It’s still hanging there at this moment.
So there’s this softening to Jesus, and a confusion about what that means, and — in no small way — a concern about how this occurrence will be perceived by others.
Will Pagans see this as proof that I was never really one of them? Will Christians see this as proof that God is calling me back to the Church?