I've been off work for a week and a half, with only one day spent at school. I took this time to be aware of the people and stories swirling around me--and focused on my own story. I wrote a lot in my regular journal, devoted countless hours to the art journals, read, and allowed myself to have quiet time to just think. The latter is hard for me as I have a tendency to be a human doing. Too much thinking produces anxiety sometimes.
On Friday I attended a funeral mass for a long-time acquaintance at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Hawthorne. It was one of the largest funerals I have ever attended and Trudy's priest son, Fr. Jim Clarke, was the principal celebrant with 35 priests and deacons on the altar. Fr. Jim is one of my favorite priests. He always speaks to my heart. The Clarke's have 11 adult children, many, many grandchildren, and one great grandchild and my kids went to school with them at St. Catherine Laboure. I taught some of the Clarke kids in CCD. Trudy and Bill were spiritual role models to many of us and it's hard to believe she is gone. Her husband Bill is near the end of his life and lives in a nursing facility; he was present at the funeral and reception afterwards although unable to engage with the guests. He was once a mentor to me; I felt very, very sad, but what a legacy they have lived.
St. Joseph's was the first Catholic Church I ever remember being in. It was my sister Virginia and brother-in-law Sal's parish and I often spent time with them when I was growing up. As I recall, I was about 8-years-old and my sis took me shopping for a new Easter dress. We sat in the choir loft, or at least that is what I remember. This church is very large and is filled with art and statuary. I'll never forget the grandeur of that Easter service. It was the first time I saw Our Lady of Guadalupe who is displayed prominently on a side altar. I was attending a Baptist Church at the time. When my husband and I moved back to L.A. after college, St. Joseph's was our parish for two years.
My parents, my sisters and I lived in a small home at 11408 Birch St. in Hawthorne when I was ages 3-6. After the funeral, I drove by the house and though it seemed huge to me as a kid, it is in reality very modest. It was during WW II and my sisters were all of dating age. I remember so many service men visiting our home as my older sisters were active at the USO. In speaking with my two living sisters yesterday, they told me that each of them had been married in front of the fire place in that house. I know that whoever lives there has a big black SUV. I wonder who they are. Memories are bombarding me.
I've been thinking a lot about my spiritual journey lately as I have been aware of being a seeker since I was a young child. I converted to Catholicism at age 21 and the church was our primary community for more than 25 years. I still feel so much at home in a Catholic Church and comfortably attend mass when it feels right. I have difficulty with politics and doctrine, but adore the mysticism, liturgy, social justice, and scholasticism of the Catholic Church. It's like coming home when I do attend mass, and yet, I am expressing myself as an Episcopal the past several years. I often dream of being at mass. Is it possible to be an Episcopal Catholic? I know there is an African Methodist Episcopal Church. Since I have free will, I suppose I can choose to worship however I wish, but I sometimes wish I wasn't so dualistic about so many things. I rarely see things in black and white.
Ah, food for thought. Any comments?