I know many who read this site are dedicated followers of Catholicism. I, however, am not. I’ve been going through a years-long process of discernment — trying to figure out if I still want to be part of a religion that no longer seems to fit with my beliefs.
Since I walked out of Mass in Santiago almost a year ago, I have been to a Catholic Mass just three times — all at the invitation of others.
It was during the first that I realized I was no longer sitting there angry: at the stance the Church chooses to take on gay marriage, on women in the priesthood, on celibacy. I was no longer trying to fit into a place where I didn’t belong. I was there this time as an observer. “Oh this is how they choose to live out their religion,” I thought, as if I was attending some other religious service I hadn’t grown up attending. Just like everyone does their own Camino, everyone does their own spirituality. Who am I to judge?
These days, I call myself a “recovering Catholic.” Some will find this offensive, but I have been amazed at how well-understood I am when I use this phrase. Many nod in agreement when I say those words. Some even say, “Oh! Me too!” Because for me, Catholicism is something that I don’t know that I will ever be “over.” Nor do I care to be. It will always be part of who I am. I have no desire to cover it up, deny it, forget about it. I walked that path for a long time. I know it well. It looks different now than it did when I was a child, however. What was once the accepted path no longer seems to look like the right direction for me.
I can still appreciate those that have “kept their faith.” It reminds me of one of the most important lessons I learned while walking the Camino to Santiago: Everyone walks their own Camino. We are all on our own journeys — spiritually or otherwise. Some choose to share their journey with others. I have chosen to do so via this blog. Busted Halo is, after all, an online magazine for spiritual seekers. It was that tagline that caused me to peruse this site years ago when I was looking for information about walking the Camino. A spiritual seeker? That was me — a pilgrim unsure of which path I wanted to follow.
Just like on the Camino, there are many routes. Many who walk don’t even have the same destination in mind. Some veer off, find another path that seems to suit them better. I have lately been practicing meditation and studying Buddhism. But like any path, I may one day decide to turn around, or to take another turn. I don’t feel any obligation to wish that everyone was on my same path. There is no one “right way” when it comes to religion or spirituality.
What has the journey been like for you? What other paths have you tried? What turns have you made?