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Archive for July, 2013

MadonnaI am in Ohio, the place that I grew up, learned what family means, formed my core beliefs, and figured out that I was a square peg. I have always felt that somehow I didn’t fit. My strong will was always my vehicle for leading me out of one place and to another. That and my ability to know – from the depths of my soul – when the wind was about to change for me.

But in this place I am rediscovering a story that I have been reluctant to embrace. I do fit, perfectly, in this place and this family. It’s the story of a girl who had just the right parents, and just the right sisters born in just the right time and space to become me. I am the person I was destined to become.

My childhood and the church introduced me to the idea that there was something bigger than me and let me taste faith for the first time. This faith was steeped in ritual and mysticism that is core to Catholicism, and left an indelible mark on me.

My mother’s family is most responsible for this part of me. Her parents were salt-of-the-earth farmers who worked the land and never missed a Sunday mass. They prayed a lot with the help of leather-covered prayer books filled with pictures of saints they picked up at the funeral home when relatives died. And rosaries. Seems like all the women in the family were devoted to Mary, the mother of Jesus. They asked her for help in times of trouble, and there was always trouble. As I remember it, even the good times were marred by a sense of seriousness that comes from being faithful. There were topics that simply were not discussed, especially within earshot of children.

Without realizing it, these very Catholic women who played such an important role in my development introduced me to the divine feminine. With their prayers and gentle nudges to set my intentions before the Blessed Virgin for help, they guided me to understand the multi-dimensional presence of God.

When the faith so rooted in my very Catholic family failed me, I was destined to keep searching, seeking to understand this God who is both male and female and loves without limits.

My father’s family provided me with a very different set of tools for life. My grandfather was a wanderer and heard the beating of his own heart. Not one to conform, he lived a big life full of adventure, even after he married my grandmother when she was only twelve. She had all of her nine babies before she was 30. She accepted her situation with grace and became the mother I would like be. Sitting on her soft lap as a child, surrounded by the scent of her perfume and her warm embrace, I knew love in all its glory – no strings attached. My grandmother taught me non-judgement, showed me strength and courage, and helped me to understand the importance of caring for others.

My  grandfather was many things, but definitely not the sort of grandfather that you wanted to cuddle with. His unruly black hair was glossy and thick, and his skin was dark and weathered from spending time in the sun and in the elements. Most people thought he was a little crazy. I thought he was awesome. But I had the privilege of spending rainy afternoons sitting at his kitchen table with him, watercolor markers and a lot of white paper. He colored nature scenes mostly, and covered bridges. With broad strokes of green and brown he covered the entire paper with his pictures. I don’t remember my pictures at all. I think he wasn’t a great artist, but he didn’t care. We barely spoke. I’m not sure he knew how to talk to people under the age of 13. In fact, people over the age of 13 wouldn’t exactly call him a great communicator. Politically correctness was a foreign concept to him. If you asked him where he came from, he would say he was a gypsy, and I knew he was right.

I traveled down a few different roads in search of meaning and something I could embrace. What I found was me. I am a gypsy, wandering  the planet in search of something to believe in. My life is steeped in mysticism, ritual, and unconventional faith that we are all guided by a divine presence so much greater than anything we can imagine. And thanks to my grandfather, life is an adventure.

Yes, I am the perfect product of the people who have moved me, the places I’ve been and the spaces I’ve shared. I’m not a square peg at all, and this is as it should be.

Photo credit: © Tiberius Dinu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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