I am glad you’ve found your place.
I was raised Roman Catholic and spent a lot of time at the rectory. My family was affiliated with the the parish for decades. When I dropped by we’d have a bite to eat and rich discussions. They gave me my first bible which I read faithfully by flashlight. My favorite books were The Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach and Ecclesiastes.
Given the absence of supervision (I often came alone), I’m immensely thankful for the Lord’s protection and their character. Being in a house full of men could have had a different outcome. They planted a spiritual seed that would be instrumental later on.
Although I felt Catholicism wasn’t the right road for me and explored other traditions and religions en route to Him. I’ve never forgotten the role it played. Or His willingness to bring me full circle at a monastic weekend years later and have them validate my calling (1 of 3 who would) and reveal my way of engaging with the Lord during prayer had a name. I was doing Lectio Divina all along and never knew.
To their credit, I have never felt a greater peace than I did within the monastery. We were permitted to sit with the cloister and followed their routine. It was a Trappistine order and we prayed all the offices. My soul was elated but my heart grieved. My departure caused me great pain but the Lord was clear. I was needed elsewhere. Since that time, I’ve returned more than once.
I didn’t find my way back to God or Christ in a church. He led me to a Conservative Jewish synagogue. I was agnostic and nearing the point of atheism before He snatched me back. I would not possess the certainty and rootedness I have if I’d gone elsewhere. And I doubt I’d have the tolerance and trust if others were telling me what to think or feel. Instead of permitting me to share my feelings and allow the Holy Spirit to guide my steps.
Most would never guess this upon meeting me or reading my comments. Nor would they imagine my proficiency in numerous religions and the others I studied but never practiced. My wandering had a purpose and my simplicity enables me to reach people from different beliefs and backgrounds.
I was won through love and that’s my banner for others. God is able to work through the foibles and mistakes and the ones we make as well. While I’m like Paul and determine to know nothing beyond God and Christ. I realize the next may require something else and that’s okay.