Sunday, May 26, 1996

Church Search, Weeks 1-4


Thus far:
Week 1: St. Mary's Cathedral (Catholic)
Week 2: Calvery Chapel (Protestant)
Week 3: St. Mary's and UU Church (for new member Sunday)
Week 4: St. Gregory's (Episcopal)

Woke up late so I had to make a choice between St. Gregory's or the Baptist church. Seeing as how at St. Gregory's I had more chance of taking communion, I chose them. (I was going to go to the early service at St. Gregory's, and then go to the Baptist church. Maybe next week.) Anyway, I did take communion. The guy who handed me the cup didn't realize it was empty, but I took the last drop. At least I got something. And it was real wine. I thought it was water until I tasted it, but it was wine, just like Jesus used.

I think this was one of the most (if not the most) positive church experiences I've had. The priest and deacons spoke to me at length, as well as members of the congregation. I told them of the role the Internet played in my "conversion." They were amazed. Their service was very much like the Catholic ones I've been to (a real plus), and I even noted elements from the two Eastern Orthodox services I went to. There was also a baptism of a 7 or 8 year old child.

The service lasted about 2 hours (little less). I'm told it's usually about an hour and a half long, made a little longer this time because of the baptism. But I wasn't tired or bored at all. It was a good service. Plenty of singing, a couple easy dance steps, and blessedly short litergy {I think I mean sermon} that was just the right length to get the point across. It was about the Holy Spirit because today is Pentacost. The priest discussed how, like the wind, you can't control the Holy Spirit. Then they asked the congregation to share any stories the litergy might have brought to mind. At that moment, not before, the relevance of the uncontrollable nature of the Spirit suddenly brought to mind my concert expereince. I debated speaking up (I don't know these people). I composed an outline of what I would say. Then I spoke - first. All the above took only seconds for my mind to do. I simply said that I was a new Christian and told about going to a Christian music concert and feeling an incredibly loving Presense fill the room ("in the room" might be a tad more truthful), and that I can't further describe the experience. Then I sat down. I should have said more - I should have briefly told the rest of the story. But I had at least 2 or 3 more people thank me for saying what I did. A couple people came up to me just to say that.

There was a part of the service where we could offer prayers for help or of thanksgiving. I said something about Charles, usung the form printed in the litergy and using only his first name, not expounding on any problem. I guess this is the equivelant to Candles of Sharing.

Between the service and taking communion for really the first time in years, I came away from that church glowing. (The communion on Easter was not "real"; it was an outward expression of the end of my [first] rebellion.)

Saturday, May 25, 1996

Taking down the altar

Waking up this morning last night seemed just like a dream. But I know it wasn't. The book is missing from my shelf, and there is a second necklace around my neck. It was real.

Soon after getting up today, I decided to take my altar down. It just felt right. I don't know why. I wrapped most everything in newspaper and packed it away in the travel case. I took the cloth off. There's a few items sitting on the table still, but it is a table now, not an altar. What is happening to me? I'm quite sure that if yesterday had been a "normal" Friday and I had not met Charles, that it never would have occurred to me today to take down my altar. There was something magickal about our meeting last night. What else could cause me to dissemble something I've been creating for years?

Eleanor said she never know that the concert had had such an effect on my life. After talking to her today, though, I think she understands a bit clearer. She had offered to take me to see "Godspell" tomorrow.

Eleanor made me aware of one of the blessings of living in SF. If I was still living in Chico there's no way Charles and I could have met. There's no way he could have flown through; here he can. Here God has a chance to work.

Friday, May 24, 1996

Meeting Charles

I didn't want to be on campus today, but I had financial aid to take care if and needed to take care of a couple things at the campus bookstore. Naturally, since I was on campus, I logged on to the Net. There was a note from Charles in response to my last note to him, but there was another note as well stating that a relative had died and he was flying toward Florida today. Due to Memorial Day weekend, instead of passing though Chicago or some such more direct way, he was coming through San Francisco. Did I want to meet him at SFO for his short layover?

His Air Canada flight was 20 minutes late. We only had about an hour to talk before he had to board a flight to North Carolina where he will be staying with some family. A true (and for me highly emotionally charged) bittersweet moment. And a true gift. Thank you God.

I met him at the arrival gate, and spotted him in the crowd immediately. I had my old dog-eared, highlighter-penned, used-looking copy of "The Truth About Witchcraft Today," which he's never quite got around to picking up, wrapped in newspaper (to give it more the look of a gift). I had written a sort of "dedication" to him inside the front cover. He also had a gift for me - a small 14 karat gold heart with a cross inside it. It's real tiny on a real delicate, short chain, but it's the most wonderful gift, and how he came up with it on such short notice I don't know.

So I am touched. I see God's hand in Charles' flight coming through San Francisco. It is a wonderful gift (even if the circumstances could have been better) - undeserved, unexpected, a true present that also shows God's enormous power, and is bit humbling as well. How can I thank you, God, for this completely undeserved meeting? Thank you. You know how much it means to me.

Wednesday, May 15, 1996

poem: May 3rd

[About my conversion.]

May 15-16, 1996

May 3rd
She stands on the shore
Of the rainy day,
Unsure of what lay ahead.
Certainty stretched out behind her--
Certainty, hope, love:
Her friends and her God.
Now she was being asked to venture into the
Unknown darkness of the watery abyss.
Now she was being asked to trust this
New God and new experience.
She looks out on a sunset over a cloudless sea
As drizzle falls on the beach.
Can she take this leap of faith?
Can she abandon herself?

With a deep breath
She steps into the water,
Accepting its blessing and all it has to offer.
The clouds do not clear or the rain cease,
But from somewhere an unearthly light shines.
From within and without her, the
Seascape and beach are faintly illuminated.
She looks at the water lapping around her ankles,
Like wine from a long forgotten cup,
And smiles.

Sunday, May 05, 1996

What Do I Believe?

Went to St. Mary's for church this morning. The first thing I noticed when walking through the doors was the smell of incense. The service was good - the processions, the gestures: the ritual. Ritual always turns me on. And I could feel more into it than I did when I went to the Easter service for my class. Still on the outside, but more "in" than before.

I am still beset with doubts - lots of them. I almost feel like I'm pretending belief. Do I really believe? Do I really want this? God, I'm so confused! Did he really die for me? Did he rise on the third day? Is he God? Dif God Himself die for me?! What do I believe?

Yesterday I went to a Christian bookstore and bought a small gold cross. I put it on with my pentagram. Or rather, I put the pentagram on the delicate chain with the cross as the chain the pentagram was on had broken several days earlier. Let's see how long this very delicate chain lasts...

I am just so tortured with doubts. No sooner do I recommit myself to Him, and ask Jesus back into my heart, than I have all these doubts. I don't know if I believe in Him as Savior or not. I feel like such a poser.

I've realized in the last couple days when speaking about who I am, I've always used the word "Pagan." "I am still a Pagan," I would say. I never said, "I am still Wiccan." Which brings me to a realization I had tonight that ties in with Jodie questioning whether or not she's still Christian. I don't know anymore whether or not I'm Wiccan. I would still call myself a Pagan, but am I Wiccan? And along those lines, why do I still call myself Pagan? In what sense am I a Pagan? In what sense am I and am I not a Pagan and Wiccan?

And what do I believe about Christianity? In what ways am I and am I not a Christian?

I do not have answers to these questions. They are hidden from me. I do not know much of anything right now beyond the feeling on longing in my heart.

Baptism is the Christian equivalent to Wiccan initiation. Neither should be undertaken lightly, which is why you won't see me getting baptized anytime soon.

But before Baptism, the Christian first lets Jesus into their heart, into their life. It struck me tonight that the Wiccan equivalent would be dedication. Nothing super binding, but a formal declaration of the willingness to learn and embrace the path.

I am a long way from Christian initiation. I need to study more and learn more about this man Jesus and this new God. I need to learn to love them. I need to know if I can accept this God as my own. I am struck by the love I felt from that Being at the concert. I am struck by Jesus' sacrifice for me. I am humbled and awed. But I am merely a dedicant at this point.

I know God loves me, even if I don't yet know if I love Him, and can't bring myself in prayer to say, "I love you." I have prayed that He help me to love Him, however.

I want to love Him; I want this to be real. It felt "right" to be in a Christian church today.

I've wanted this on some level all along. It wasn't just that He was calling me; I wanted it. I haven't been fighting only God these past weeks, but myself as well. That's why the struggle's been so intense. God didn't need to do a lot in my life; I was doing it to myself, and fighting that self in return.

Am I Christian? I don't know. I need to study Scripture to decide that. But I will keep praying for help, understanding, and love. I will pray to Jehovah in Jesus' name.

I'm still very much vacillating between the love or longing that I feel, and the pragmatism of knowing little of the real nature of God and Jesus, God and Christ.

Friday, May 03, 1996


I, Spirit, do hereby declare on this, the third day of May, 1996, that I have accepted Jesus Christ in my heart. I am willing to follow, wherever that may lead.

This is not to say I'm not Pagan anymore. I guess that would put me in the category of Christo-Pagan, at least for now. Obviously, things are changing fast.

To back up...I was walking across campus today thinking about what I really think about Jesus, and I really don't have a big problem with His mercy mission to earth, death, and resurrection. A small problem perhaps, but not a big one.

So I (finally) got ahold of Jim at home and asked him some questions such as, "Do you believe He came to save humankind from sin?" and "Do you believe He is the Messiah the prophets spoke of in the Old Testament?" Getting affirmative answers, I knew what I had to do. I called Charles.

Now he told me not to call him because family pressures were bad, and relations strained between him and Christine. This however, being an emergency, overrode all of that in my book. The first time I dialed I got several rings, but no answer. Thinking I had misdialed, I called again. Christine picked up. I asked for Charles, said who I was, and she said he'd just walked in the door.

(Now mind you, I had called Sprint before this to find out what time weekend rates go on, and how much the off-rates were. I discovered that 10 cents a minute begins midnight on Friday/Saturday. Off rates are weekdays until 7 p.m. - $1 a minute, after 7, 40 cents or 45 cents [I forget which]. It was before 7 p.m. at this point.)

Paul was picking me up at 7 for taize, so I called at this expensive time and we spoke for 10 or 15 minutes. I strove to keep it short, even in my agitated state. I told him I was thinking of accepting Jesus into my heart. He told me what I might want to say in such a prayer, and I said I'd think about it, and then I had to hang up.

I prayed a simple prayer then, though I was unclear on whether or not it "took." Then I called Jodie who was astounded at my "conversion." Then I decided I needed someone to pray with me to make it "take" better and to have someone to share with.

It was 5-15 minutes before 7 when I called Charles back and asked him to pray with me - now. His prayer was a bit inadequate and short I felt, but in the next several minutes, along with me making a statement about wanted Jesus in my heart, I felt it "take."

It was 15 minutes after 7 when we hung up, and that was only after I got a promise from him that I could call him tomorrow. I asked him to keep praying for me and he said something like, "Do you think I'm going to stop now?"

So it begins. Right here, right now, in this bedroom. I will follow You, Christ.

Paul had called at 10 minutes to 7 (ain't call waiting grand?) to say he was leaving Alameda and traffic would probably not be good. He arrived at a quarter of 8 to take me to taize.

We had major problems finding the freeway onramp. At 8:07 we were still in the City. We even went the wrong way down a one way street! Talk about problems. We arrives at the place the taize was being held (on the peninsula) about 8:35 - 35 minutes late. They were about halfway through the service already. But Paul and I did go up to the front and I got to bow down at the foot of the cross they had laid on the floor and put my forehead on it and tell Jesus I wanted him to lead me.

I told Paul a little of my decision to follow Jesus, but he didn't seem to know what to say and seemed uncomfortable and awkward. I'm glad Charles was there for me earlier.

Wednesday, May 01, 1996

Happy Beltane!

Happy Beltane! Got to see the Morris Dancers dance the sun up this morning! As of Sunday, H. didn't have a working car. I prayed Sunday night that he would find one, and that night he did. Thank the Lady for small pleasures like this! It was (is even!) a glorious morning. H. and A. and I arrived just as the first glimmers of dawn were breaking the sky. The dancing had not started yet, and we even got a parking place in the lot! The earliest we've ever arrived, so we got to see them start the dancing. I also kept a close eye on the horizon and got to watch the sun rise. My mind was elsewhere as it rose, but my eyes were on it. Everyone whooped and cheered at its rising. In contrast to last year, not even one teeny tiny cloud obscurring it! Afterwards, the three of us went out to bagels and coffee and H. dropped me at BART to head home. This was the warmest May morning since I've been doing the Morris thing. Two years ago was, I think, the coldest.

This past weekend I did two rituals - NROOGD and Live Oak Park, and Reclaiming in Golden Gate Park, Saturday and Sunday respectively. NROOGD was by far the best - more space, less people. At Reclaiming we got to handmake flower crowns for ourselves.