For the past three weeks Robin and I have immensely enjoyed our volunteer work at the English language masses in the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. This opportunity coupled with the other traveling and walking we have done on this trip has woven an unusually vibrant tapestry of experiences, surprises, and reflections that frequently amazes me with their complexity as well as their simplicity. How so one might ask? To begin, it is no surprise that Robin and I are seekers. We feel completely comfortable with our belief in a loving God. The struggle that many have with this premise is that so many religions have claimed a God of their own, and because it is their own, they have a firm belief their God is superior. Now if it was just left there one could say well so what, but more typically what happens is that along with a belief in their God comes a belief and a required conformance with all sorts of rituals and practices. Many people find this challenging as it seems religions try to imply that only through adherence to these rituals and practices can one find peace with, or even access to, God. Now that strikes me as crazy. Having been a practicing Catholic for almost all of my life I still struggle with why the Catholic Church feels so much of this ritual is vital to its existence. Yes it is important to be able to verbalized exactly what it is you believe in, but if your neighbor has a different opinion, does that make him a heretic. Why should that matter? After all are we not all God's children.
It is our own personal faith journeys that should capture our interest, and those of others should be left to them. Catholic teaching speaks frequently of the ability of good acts to bring God's spirit to those who have not yet encountered it. It is clearly not preferred to wage a debate of the pros and cons of one religious belief over another. What is important is to be able to embrace in our own lives those moments of inexplicable joy that seem to arrive unbeckoned, and unexpectedly. When these moments arrive, it is almost like a navigator finding a break in the clouds to fix his position. We just seem to know that something unique has occurred, and it challenges us to engage in a deeper reflection to truly draw out its full promise. Others might find their strength in different ways, and we should have room in our hearts to both understand and tolerate that. And so it goes. Each "Holy Spirit" moment drops a point that adds to the locus of our faith journey. It is a journey that can lead us anywhere and everywhere, but in the end it is our hope that we arrive where we began, with God our father. Both Robin and I have witnessed many of these holy moments where God's spirit just seems so close. These encounters warm our hearts, hopefully guide our ongoing behavior, and provide a course adjustment so that even when the journey seems fraught with peril and uncertainty, we feel comfortable we are heading Home, and being homeward bound is music to any voyager's ears.