I wrote a letter to a local priest about everything, and how I was hoping to have this all resolved before leaving for Norway, but I never heard back from him. (Come to think of it, I still haven't heard back from him... why does this not seem to be important to anyone but me! I need help processing and coping with these Soul Cries!) Feeling as if I was alone on a tight rope, balancing between bravery in the face of my biggest fears and total surrender to the dark depression that lay behind me, I took a deep breath and focused on doing whatever needed to be done to be there for Camilla.
I went to Norway. My "YES!" to God's call here, and Camilla's email, brought me back to church half way around the world, and rekindled that flame, that passion for Christ's love.
Actually, it all started in Boston as I was on my way to Norway. Anyone who's been reading my blogs over the last few years knows that a huge hurdle between me and God right now is "George" (name changed for anonymity), and the pain and hurt he's caused me. You also know that I've acknowledged that forgiving him is going to be the ultimate in what I need to do to feel right with my Faith. I started taking steps towards healing and forgiving by googling his name and finding that he was ordained, and that a lot of what he talked about as turning points in his path involved many personal conversations and moments that he and I had shared. It didn't make his hurtful words any easier to live with, but it did give me a sense of validation for the anger I felt when he denied our friendship.
So- back to Logan Airport- I get a call from my mom saying that "George" had replied to Camilla on FB about her conversion and me being her sponsor, saying that he was thinking about me during his morning reading, how the one who loves much suffers much in the context that Jesus loves us so much that he suffers interiorly for us, that it was beautiful, and that I have a very big heart. This is a subject that he and I talked about quite a bit because of my Soul Cries. At first I was very angry- who does he think he is, and why does he think he has the right to "think about me" after he did what he did!!! Then I remembered that I have been asking God to give him a sense of conviction about how he had chosen to end our friendship... While I don't know that "George" will ever apologize, or could ever do or say anything to heal my soul after what he did, I believe that this is as close to that as it will get.
After crying and then composing myself while waiting for my flight, I just kept praying- so hard- that God give me strength to attend mass, since being a sponsor sort of means that I need to be PRESENT at the mass.
I can't begin to explain to you how perfect it was, having mass in a language that I didn't understand. It almost helped me to focus more on the Spirit in the mass! I mean- at Easter Vigil my first prayer was "Lord, I'm in Your house, it's a language that I don't understand, so please- speak directly to me, let me hear Your message. Amen" And you know what? I understood the next few sentences spoken about the Pope and his message from the Vatican. After mass I asked Camilla why they said all of that in English, and she assured me they didn't... and the words "...you shall speak my words in foreign lands and all will understand..." came to mind. Was I understanding God's words in a foriegn land? Yes! And I didn't feel lost during mass because it's the same in any language- that's the beauty of mass. You can go to almost any country, walk into a Roman Catholic church, and know exactly where they are in the mass because it's the same liturgy. It was almost better than having the mass in English because I had to actually focus harder and recall the translation from years of Sunday service. It was nice one-on-one time with God without having to be alone.
"George" 's birthday happened to be one of the days this week, and - gotta love those social networking sites telling you what friends are doing - Camilla wrote on his wall... he replied, and said to "extend well wishes to Melinda" along with Camilla's family. Again, I caught myself saying "he has no right to ask her to do that.." and then stopped myself, prayed that God will help to heal my heart and move me on from this garish scar on my soul.
When Camilla and I went into town, we spent about 2 hours at lunch just catching up on the last 7 years or so. She reminded me of how I taught her to pray the rosary, and how it was such an important moment in her faith formation. I felt bad at first, because I didn't remember, and then I realized that I was just being me- that's who I am. Blessed Teresa of Calcuta said "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." I'm not saying that I am anyone's world, but I see now that who I am in my day-to-day life has a direct and positive impact on those around me. It was a very humbling moment for me. My dear friend then shared how both "George" and I had been so important in her steps toward Catholicism... and we realized that she was not aware of everything that had happened since that fateful April night 2 years ago. It was then that I shared how I had been wounded so deeply that I haven't been to church since, and that I didn't know if I was strong enough to open back up to the memories and the pain now associated with what used to bring so much joy and fellowship for me. I cried, but it was a healing cry.
That night, the priest who performed the mass was a younger, tall, slender man, with an infectious grin, a light hearted laugh, and very distinct mannerisms that reminded Camilla and I of "George". Pater Pål. I wouldn't be surprised if he said the same sort of things that "George" says, just in Norwegian instead of English or Spanish. Again, I cried. Tears to heal, tears of mourning for a friendship lost, and more tears of healing.
So, yeah- 4 days in Norway and the taboo-ex-friend of mine has been in my face three times. But that's not all. We were talking about the Holy Spirit, and the mysticism of the Faith, and how sometimes that can be the hardest to swallow... I shared the story of my Soul Cries. Camilla shared a moment she had that really started her down her path. Turns out that we both had significant experiences involving the Holy Spirit in 1998, in a church in France. 1998 was declared by Pope John Paul II to be the year of the Holy Spirit.
(I'm noticing a theme here...)
At mass that night I prayed that Camilla would feel the Spirit move inside her, helping her to feel and understand the fullness It brings. No sooner had I said "Amen" then she turned to me and whispered "ONE MORE DAY!", holding up one finger and showing so much excitment and light in her eyes that I thought for sure she was a child on Christmas morning after Santa came with presents! It was beautiful. Again, I cried.
Between "George" and the Holy Spirit, I cried quite a bit at church this first week of Easter!
Day 5 itinerary was -meet w/priest, Camilla's 1st Confession -interview with national newspaper -mass.
Maybe Day 5 was when we had dinner with Pater Pål? I don't remember... I just know that mass felt better and better every day, even though I still didn't understand anything but the latin music and the eucharist. Every day was better and better, and I felt more and more at home in the Church. I met an amazing woman, Gunvor Johanne, and felt an instant connection. We decided that I am Camilla's US-Gunvor and Gunvor is Camilla's Norway-Melinda. It was so wonderful to just share mass and dinner with them. The fellowship that was faith based was so amazing, and something that I've missed since I was at PLU and still had "Sara" and "George" as friends. (I really don't think either one of them knows how much they meant to me and how much they have hurt me by their actions and non-actions)
Day 6, I had a silent meltdown at about 2am. Seeing Camilla, knowing I would be leaving her in less than a day, having "George" in my face almost every day all week long after working so hard to FORGET him, confronting my fears of opening up to Soul Cries again without any sort of support network in place, and realizing I felt like I had finally found a few solid women of Faith and I would be half way around the world from them for most of my life... I think it was all just an emotional overload.
The day I left, I thanked God here and there, all the way back home. It was such a wonderful journey, and such an amazing and humbling experience, knowing that me being exactly who I am and allowing the Spirit to work through me had made such a strong impact on one of my friends... and found it oddly comforting that "George" had such a presence while I was there. (And at the same time, it really, really pisses me off! Why does he still have to be involved in my Faith! How can I move on from him if he keeps popping up?)
I wish there was a smooth resolve to this blog, but I don't think there is. I feel like there's so much more that I haven't been able to express that is moving inside me- with God, with processing and accepting Soul Cries on my own, and even with the lingering haunt of "George". I got an email from FB the other day saying he'd commented on a wall post I'd made on Camilla's wall. I just about fell off my chair when I saw his name in my inbox after 2 years. Seeing his name, hearing his name, seeing his picture, being reminded of what he said and did- all of it still stops my heart and hurts my soul. Someday I won't feel any more pieces of me die because of him. In the mean time, I'm going to focus on everything ELSE....