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By Marla Carew
Spiritual Autobiography is a 5-week series during Lent when we take some time to reflect on our spiritual journey, share our faith experiences, and hear the stories of others. It’s a powerful and transformative experience that is hard to put into words. And so we’ve asked past participants to share their experience in the hope that it will encourage you to give it a try as well. (Sign up or more info here.)
If you ever felt like you didn’t completely fit in — especially in a church community — that was me. So when the opportunity came along to sign up for spiritual autobiography, it was an intimidating idea to put it mildly! I was nervous about sharing my winding path in a church filled with long-time members, cradle Episcopalians, and people I assumed were more “orderly” than me. Would they accept me? Would I feel like an outsider?
But I am so grateful that I didn’t succumb to intimidation! The process of looking back helped me to understand that my winding path actually had strong themes and everything, from growing up in a mixed Protestant/Catholic household (with strongly opinionated people), to finding that I loved liturgy at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, and through my “Thomas Merton years” of Zen meditation and koan study, led me to find a home in The Episcopal Church, and Christ Church Cranbrook in particular. That winding path led upward to Confirmation as an adult, EfM where I can ask questions and discuss hard topics, and to a joyous role as a Eucharistic Minister.
Most important – that winding path led me to community and relationships that I value deeply. Hearing other peoples’ spiritual autobiographies was wonderful (such interesting people!) and I believe that also helped to create community because so many of us have stages on our paths in common. If you have doubted, studied something else, stopped attending, or restarted attending after some time, you are not alone. If you didn’t know whether you belonged somewhere once, you are not alone. And that may be the best part of sharing the spiritual autobiography in a group, finding that no matter where we come from, we are not alone on our faith journeys when we join together.