I am having a hard time lately. I hate to even say that (or write it), because I know my problems are small and insignificant compared to what is going on elsewhere in the world. I just can't seem to find the balance in my life that I'm looking for, and I think it has to do with not going to church. To people who've never gone to church, it probably sounds silly. To many, going to church on a Sunday morning is a mindless exercise, when you'd rather go out to breakfast or sleep until noon. For me, it was comforting, and I basked in the warmth I felt as soon as I stepped through the double doors and found my way to the pew. I'd stare up at the saints, look up at the tiny skylights with painted stars surrounding them, and I'd feel home. I'd feel a connection to my dad that I can't find anywhere else, even when I go to visit his grave. I think the main reason for my love of church is that it was the one thing I could count on doing when my dad was alive. Every Saturday, I'd spend the night with him and the next morning we'd go to church bright and early. I usually grumbled the whole time, that I wanted to sleep in, or stay in my PJs, or go to a friends' house, but off to church we went. Even when he was in the throes of chemotherapy, up until he went into the hospital, he would put on his dress clothes and hide his bald head with a hat and go to church.
The problem I am having is finding balance between my beliefs and my connection with my father. My dad was a Catholic, I was raised a Catholic, and now I'm not a Catholic anymore. Catholic church, to me, is about the tradition, the symbolism. But my beliefs don't line up with Catholicism. I'm vehemently pro-choice and pro-gay marriage rights, which right off the bat strikes me out as a "bad Catholic". In fact, according to the pope, I don't even deserve to take communion in the church I've gone to for 21 years because I vote for pro-choice politicians. Sometimes, I will sneak off and leave the baby with Rob or my mom and say I'm going to the store or on some other errand, when in actuality I go to the adoration chapel. I figure no one will see me there, and I can be at peace and take the time to connect with my dad without having to let everyone squeeze past me in the pew when they get to take communion, and I don't. To non-religious people, I'm sure the solution seems simple: take communion anyway. But that would be disrespectful to the religion and church that I love, and one thing I'm not is disrespectful.
I have been exploring different faiths for quite some time now, and the one that unanimously matches my beliefs is Unitarian Universalism. The problem is, I can't bring myself to go. The church is less than 10 minutes from my house, and every week I toy with going, and I never do. That would mean that I am truly renouncing Catholicism, not just in my head like I usually do, and finally letting my dad know what I've been holding in for so long. I'm sure he knows already, since I do believe in the afterlife, but I feel like as long as I don't formally go to another church, a part of me is still Catholic. I'm not sure if it's the actual act of going to church and worshipping that is soothing, or if it's just sitting in St. Mary's and revelling in the memories of my dad. And somehow, I keep coming back to the idea of going to the UU church. I feel like it could be a sign from my dad that it's okay with him if I'm not Catholic, but I can't know for sure, and I never will. I guess I just have to stop worrying about what my family thinks and do this for myself. But, like anything, saying it out loud is the easy part - the hard part is actually doing it.