Foundations Part 1: The Inconvenient Jesus

I was not intending to return to the Catholic Church.  As a queer woman with somewhat radical and visionary leanings, I like many have struggled to find my place within the religion of empire that has left such a huge scar on the planet and on my own being.  I left the church of my upbringing in 2009 to dive deeply into my own healing journey, which included a blend of intensive therapy, yoga, relational work, art, meditation, and other modalities.  A large portion of my healing revolved around addressing spiritual and religious trauma experienced within patriarchal and homophobic religious and familial culture.  Also like many, I turned to Eastern traditions (the Goddess tradition of Yoga, specifically), in large part for their more relatable imagery of the divine and embodiment practices that for the first time supported me in experiencing the Incarnation not as an abstract theological idea but as something enfleshed in my own physical body.

And then about a year and a half ago, I had a quite literal Come-To-Jesus moment.  

I was meditating in a side chapel of Santa Fe’s cathedral, ruminating on a problem I was having that I just couldn’t seem to figure out.  I’d been chewing on this situation for weeks, and as I sat in the chapel, which just happened to be the chapel of St. Joseph, I looked up and saw the image of Jesus on the cross of San Damiano—the same cross, I recognized, before which St Francis of Assisi had his conversion.  I found myself just starting to talk to Jesus—saying, Ok Jesus.  I'm sure you dealt with things like this.  How do I get through?  What am I missing?  What am I supposed to do?  

And then something happened that I didn’t see with my eyes or hear with my ears, but knew—could sense—in my very being.  A sphere of golden light surrounded me and I heard the words: Why are YOU trying to figure that out?  Don’t you know I’ve got your back?  Whatever you’re worrying about—I’m already on it.  And then these words, which will never sound as potent as I experienced them: All you have to do is open your heart to the power of my love.  

With that I felt as if 1,000 pounds had lifted from my body and I breathed the biggest sigh of relief I think I’ve ever breathed.  I had this true and absolutely certain sense that everything was getting worked out, and all I had to do from this day forward was ask for my daily assignment, do my best with it, and let everything else be handed over.  To assume more was up to me was prideful—and I finally recognized the hubris in the way I’d been operating, as if I in my thinking mind was in charge of anything.  It was the most humbling and freeing experience I had ever had and have ever had since.

I went into what I can only describe as an semi-altered state that lasted some 4-6 weeks.  I started waking up between 4-5am with just a burning heart to do my practices, move my body, and go to daily mass.  Even though the nearby Catholic church was conservative and stuffy, I felt compelled to receive the Eucharist as true spiritual food, and for the first time ever, it felt nourishing.  I felt joyful upon rising and content upon laying down for bed.  What was profound and vital on top of that, was that I had the awareness that I was in a state that wasn’t necessarily going to last—and I felt peaceful about that, like I’d be ready to let it go when the time came.  Somehow, however long this lasted, I knew the scales had tipped for good.  Jesus had become a very real and felt presence to me, and I just had this knowing that, whatever followed, I was being transformed.

Even in my state of glow, I also felt totally annoyed.  Why was Jesus, of all Holy Beings, showing up for me now after I’d just spent years and thousands of dollars on therapy extracting myself from Jesus-indoctrination?!  It felt very inconvenient.  

The inconvenience would only magnify when, about two months later, I attended an inter-spiritual meditation retreat and met a Roman Catholic Woman Priest.  I was in a small group of women, and we each took turns sharing faith stories.  I went first, sharing pieces about growing up Catholic, coming out as Queer in college, leaving the church, finding yoga, knowing I had a call to spiritual leadership but not really knowing what that was suppose to look like.  When the next woman shared, it was of a wandering journey from a Protestant upbringing to this and that, then falling in with some Catholics, taking some graduate courses.  “And then,” she said, “I converted to Catholicism…and now I’m a Catholic Priest.”  

Literally, my jaw dropped and I burst into tears.  

Looking back, I think I had known about the RCWP movement peripherally (you can find out more here), but it was as if I was hearing about it for the very first time.  I was struck with a profound sense of equal amounts purpose and terror.  I avoided this woman for the next 24 hours, but by the last day of the retreat finally summoned the courage to go talk to her.  “I think I need to hear more about this how-it-is-you-are-a-Catholic-Priest thing.”  She gave me the name of a woman priest who was closer to my home town.  I put the name in my pocket, went home from the retreat, and did nothing with it for three months.  

It’s taken me over a year and a half of bargaining with the Divine about my calling to finally give in to this unmistakable current.  I have begun the process of discernment towards ordination as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest, with lots of clear pieces to the puzzle, but not a completely clear way of how they are all going to fit together.  

It's within this current that my work emerges.  Read more here about some of the core pieces shaping my vision, vocation, and the founding principles of my work: Sacred Feminism, Intersectionality, Bridge-building, Embodiment, Deep Ecology, and Visionary Community.