Saturday, February 18, 2012

What 'Wuz' and is to be

Longtime Dawn Patrol readers may recall that I wrote a series of blog entries about my spiritual journey from Reform Jewish child to agnostic young adult, to defiantly non-Catholic Christian, and finally to my home in the Catholic Church. In an (intentionally misspelled) tribute to the title of Father Richard John Neuhaus's conversion story, I called it "How I Became the Catholic I Wuz."

Ultimately, after a number of installments, I left the series unfinished. There is something fundamentally incommunicable about the experience of conversion. I became frustrated trying to put my experiences into words in a way that would have meaning for others.

Last summer, however, while writing My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, I started to think about my spiritual pilgrimage in light of those who had gone before. The saints' experiences helped me to better see how God's fatherly love had been with me throughout my life—during all the times as a child when I suffered by the sins of others, all the times as a young adult when I suffered by my own sins, and all the times when I was without hope.

So I started to write my conversion story into the pages of My Peace I Give You, intertwined with the saints' own stories of God's grace working in and through their lives. And I found that what I could not communicate on my own, I could communicate with their help. Looking back, I realize I was only doing what I had seen Pope Benedict do in his encyclical Spe Salvi—using the stories of saints (in the Pope's case, St. Josephine Bakhita) to help the reader understand "what it means to have a real encounter with this God for the first time" (Spe Salvi 3).

That is why I removed the "Wuz" series from the Dawn Patrol archives tonight. Instead, in the coming weeks, as the publication of My Peace I Give You nears, I'll share more about it as it relates to my own experience. However much I am able to comprehend this great gift of life in Christ at all, I can now comprehend it only from the perspective of living in the communion of saints.

Image: Detail of Passion sculpture at the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap, Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Dawn Eden.