Facing the blank page of my future, I’ve been inclined to reach into the past for things to fill it. Increasingly, I have looked back at my life, at times when I was “happy” or felt “fulfilled,” and tried to analyze the circumstances, identify the thing that made me happy, so that I could go after it again. I remembered being happy at my “dream job…” For many, many years, I quested after another one. To the point that job hunting was my job for nearly a decade. And I never found it. Whether my focus was too narrow, or my standards set impossibly high, the next perfect opportunity never presented itself. I gave up and finally started my own business. Which, I realize now, was the answer all along.

Still, I’m not really happy, and I’m a far cry from fulfilled. There’s a huge hole in my life, the one that used to be filled with family and friends. Again, it’s taken me nearly a decade to realize that the feeble attempts I have made to fill that hole have failed dismally. I’ve tried joining a gym, taking classes, volunteering… I’m such a solitary soul, these things don’t work for me. I go to the gym, or the class, or the job, get down to the business at hand, and go home. I don’t mean to be anti-social. I just…am. And it looks like I am not destined to encounter that kind group who will see past my social ineptitude and take me under its wing.

Recently, I’ve realized there is another emptiness in my life—a spiritual void. Shortly after my sister’s death, I walked away from faith in the traditional Christian concept of God. I wasn’t angry with God, not really. I simply realized that there were too many inconsistencies between the great benevolent parent-in-the-sky I have been led to believe in, and the things that actually happened on this earth. That I was no more interested in having a personal relationship with the unknowable, omnipotent Architect of creation than It was in having one with me. The recent ugly tide of self-righteous, xenophobic, intolerant fundamentalism has done nothing to soften my heart, or call me toward seeking a renewed relationship with the Almighty.

Lately, though, I’ve discovered that life’s earliest lessons, the ones written on the heart when the heart was still soft and clean and eager to accept them, are the hardest ones to unlearn. That God who was branded upon my soul, practically in my infancy,is still there…at least, I think He is. Finally, my ever more desperate loneliness has led me to reach for that last diminishing light from my past. All my other feeble attempts to find a community that will have me have failed. In some convoluted way, I half-believed that perhaps it was because I had turned my back on God that I had become so lonely and disconnected. How easy it was to pull that kind of logic out of the deep recesses of my soul, where I had thought it long turned to dust from disuse.

At last, I decided that perhaps there might be a church out there somewhere that could restore my faith…in God, in people, in myself. So, Sunday morning, January 1, 2006, I stepped out of my head and into the first church I had entered voluntarily, with a mind to reconciliation, in a very, very long time.

To be continued….