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Beneath the Cloak: Quo Vadis? October 16, 2009

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

This one’s coming a bit later than I originally had in mind. A while back, I was given some constructive criticism on another post, and I said I’d have more to say later on. Well, later on came a bit later on than I initially planned, and next thing I was thinking this might make a good “happy-birthday-to-me-here’s-where-I-stand” type of offering. Well, my birthday was last Saturday, so here we go again. I finally decided to thrash this out and have done with it–I’m curious, frankly, what its reception will be.

My spiritual background is…well…it’s complicated.

I was raised as mainstream a Christian as it gets. Because of my military upbringing, I never really had a church home until my teens, when my family settled in Harford County. Prior to that, whenever the boxes came out, there’d be a different church to go to, and…wait…I thought I understood that concept at my Dad’s last duty station. You mean I’ve had it wrong the whole time? Rinse and repeat all the way to age 13. I had a good knowledge of Scripture, but I had a lot of questions. The biggest question I had, which no one on Earth could seem to answer, was, essentially, “How come?”

All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God, okay; the wages of sin is death, okay; so how come God bothered to redeem us if we’re so messed up? Well, He loves us. How come? Well, that’s just who God is. How can He love us that much? Well, that’s something you’ll understand when you get there–you can’t even imagine how much God loves you.

It wasn’t enough, and looking back from where I stand now, I understand why: the answers I was given were, essentially, abstracting God’s love. God’s love wasn’t concrete to me: it was almost theoretical. And so I spent a very, very long time not understanding God’s love in practical terms. With me so far? Okay, hang on to this thought, because I’m going to get back to it later.

So during my middle and high school days in Harford County, I was attending a Southern Baptist church. I was an active member of the youth group, eager to learn, eager to share, and man, was I eager to sing! Between the church and my high school, I had two different choirs to keep straight. I thought, coming out of high school, that my walk was going to be informed: God didn’t promise us Disneyland, but I had enough of a foundation that I could spread my wings and face the world.

As if.

I found out very quickly that I didn’t know what I thought I knew. The abstractions I knew weren’t worth much in a concrete world. All of a sudden, half a decade in my youth group didn’t mean that much. I was back to having too many questions.

And that’s when the war broke out. Or, perhaps, when I became aware of what had been raging around me the whole time. Not that knowing exactly when it began would have made any difference.

I’ve come to believe that there’s a war being fought for every soul in this world–mine, yours, and everyone we know. For reasons I may never understand, I found out firsthand just what was going on around me, spiritually–and “terrifying” is too mild a word by half.

All that spiritual warfare stuff I learned in my youth group proved remarkably ineffective: it had been too theoretical to do me any good. My church did all it could, but it wasn’t enough. I had to do something–but what?

At wit’s end, with no other idea how to proceed, I started researching angelology in the mid-90’s. That included picking up several different books on angel communication–maybe if I could just talk to the good guys who were doing the fighting, instead of just observing, I might get some peace.

When I finally got up enough courage to contact my guardian angel, I didn’t know what to expect. There was a lot of re-familiarizing I had to do. Eventually, I ended up talking straight to Archangel Michael about what was going on, and saying, essentially, “Um, help…?” That was all the invitation Michael was required to get from me, and things settled down very quickly thereafter.

As an aside, that particular show of force was one reason I was, frankly, scared to talk to Archangel Michael for a very, very long time. But that’s another story.

So, that took care of the parts of the war that I was aware of. I know it’s still going on: the spiritual wars over all of our souls never end. But I’m no longer being constantly reminded of/scared by it. Maybe there was something to dealing directly with angels.

But then something else happened, which both answered my biggest question, and raised even bigger ones.

It was a weekend in Harford County, Dad was out of town, and there was no one around but me, my PlayStation, and the heavenly host. Harford County had no mass transit to speak of at the time, and I was living in Riverside, just off Exit 80. Even today, there’s not much to do around there if you’re on foot. So I was talking with my guardian angel about I forget what, but it mustn’t have been a happy conversation. He asked me if I needed a hug, and I was kind of incredulous at the idea–you guys can do that? He told me to stand up, move away from my couch, and close my eyes. I did–and I was completely overwhelmed by a deep, personal, full-spectrum display of Divine love.

I finally understood, concretely, just how powerful God’s love really is. If that was just one of the messengers, how much more complete must be the love of He who sent him!

Finally, some of the biggest questions I’d had about Christianity were answered. Having experienced firsthand how totally God loves me, Christ’s sacrifice finally made perfect sense to me. If God loves me that much, sinner though I am, He wouldn’t want to just give up and leave me to my own lost way, to spend eternity apart from Him. He’d want to make sure I had a chance to know Him, to experience His love, and spend eternity with Him when my time comes–even if that meant sacrificing His own Son. Yes, God really does love me that much, and more. I got it–finally.

Then came the questions. Why hadn’t I been told about this? If that answer had been there the whole time, why hadn’t I been told about it? And I really didn’t want to ask this, but I had to: was there more going on than I was being told?

My spiritual life has been in flux ever since. I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable keeping God and the angels in the loop–having experienced the extent of Divine love, it doesn’t seem quite so trivial to ask for help in different areas of my life.

I’m also not as intimidated by certain angels. Michael used to intimidate me just because of his seniority, but now I actually enjoy working with him. He’s got a playful streak, and I always feel a lot happier when I know he’s around.

That’s more than slightly heterodox when you’re raised as a Southern Baptist, isn’t it?

So, quo vadis? I’ve seen enough, and been part of enough, that I doubt I’d fit in in any Protestant church these days. But I don’t think I’m entirely comfortable going the metaphysics route–even though I know that crowd would be a lot more accepting of the totality of my beliefs. For now, I’m still searching for a spiritual place to call home.

The ironic part is that I feel more comfortable with my beliefs in Section 417 than I am in some dedicated houses of worship. Hockey isn’t my religion, no. But the Capitals have made me feel more comfortable with my beliefs than some communities of faith.

Quo vadis? I’m not sure. It took me a couple of decades to find some community, any community, where I felt like I could be myself and not have to hide who I was. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a faith community which will do for my soul, what the Capitals community has done for my spirit.

Quo vadis? Hopefully, somewhere I can fit in. But where?

Quo vadis? Maybe someday, I can answer, “Home.”




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