Talk aboutan experience with faith, your own or someone else’s.
I have been fascinated by faith from a very early age. I didn’t come from a religious or spiritual family but I was always curious about different faith traditions. My family was protestant in its background so those were the churches I first explored in high school. For awhile, I was active in an evangelical home church which was kind of out there in its practice of tongues and falling to the ground and other prayer practices which, honestly, scared the crap out of me. I went on a retreat with the group and remember fleeing the chaos of the evening prayer and hiding in the girls’ cabin on my bunk.
In college, one of my friends was Catholic. We went to Europe together with a third friend, who was Jewish, and spent some time in Italy. The Jewish friend wouldn’t go inthe basilicas and churches but I was fascinated and followed my Catholic friend around asking questions a mile a minute: “why are your kneeling like that? What’s with the holy water? Why can’t you go up on the altar?” But I also experienced a sense of holiness in those ancient churches that I hadn’t felt anywhere else.
I started reading Hans Kung and my fascination with Catholicism grew. I had no idea there was such a diversity of people and practice within the faith. In my late 20s, I took classes to learn more. I asked the priest “Why do you believe Mary was a virgin? Is sex so bad? What’s with this business about saints? Purgatory….Get real.” — I ended up converting to Catholicism. I didn’t get answers to all my questions and, honestly, does anyone really know for sure about any of that stuff? But, I loved the liturgy and the history and the feeling of holiness that surrounded me in the churches and cathedrals.