Theresa, this is a remarkably candid and searching first letter to JG exploring the origins of your faith journey, and also its shaky twists and turns as your spiritual path opens up to you in ways you are not even aware of, and later even baffled by.

The description of your family’s religious inclinations and practices when you were young was quite interesting because, I think, a majority of Christian parents were, and are, like your parents — obviously more than nominally Christian, but, as you wrote, “…faith wasn't at the center of our lives then. God was real, but He wasn't what I would call a constant presence…”

I think it’s quite rare in the busy, endlessly distracted lives we live — even retirees like myself — to have God at the center of our lives, and to experience Him as a constant presence. What does this even mean? That our every thought, word and action is vetted by our constant looking back over our shoulder to see what “Jesus would do,” think, or model in response to every given situation involving our lives, and the poor choices and decisions we often make? I always tended to think only the saints, mystics, monks and gurus were capable of this.

But as I advanced in age, my spiritual path became clearer, even as it continued to twist and turn and run into dead ends. I still struggle with my faith, but I have more clarity about the place and role of Christianity in the vast scheme of things that are most important to us human beings.

I have always been the type of person who, thankfully, used and continues to use, his mind. That includes a voracious appetite for reading, and a deep curiosity about all forms of knowledge and experience including religion, belief systems, ancient wisdom traditions, psychology and parapsychology, art, humanities, science and history, and how finally, nearing the end of life, I truly see how all of this is interrelated and how we are integral parts of creation and the working’s of God’s limitless universe.

Thankfully, I am no longer afraid to explore areas where other Christians may fear to tread because it upsets their tidy and complete, end-of-inquiry belief system and proscribed way to living. To me that’s very sad. I believe completely in lifelong learning, and exploring paths that may diverge for a time from the central winding path we are all on.

This is a key passage in your essay, and I want to say a few things about it.

“…I can't know for sure if things would have unfolded differently if He was. What I do know is nothing happens by accident, and there are no coincidences. I can see as I look back how God worked to bring me through pivotal waypoints on my life path to bring me to where I am now…”

If you have read any of my journal entries on depression that I sent you, you will see how God is, by choice, and later by circumstances, absent in my life in the midst of the worse struggles and mental suffering imaginable. I was at those times capable of very little mental activity, and had only minimal powers of concentration left, let alone the mental resources for contemplating what God was doing in my life, and what He could do to help pull me out of an ever-widening downward spiral.

But as I emerged miraculously into a world transformed by the buzzing life and beauty of Spring back in 1979, I entered at that point a remarkable three-year stage of spiritual growth after converting to Catholicism. Although I have long since left that branch of Christianity, it gave me my first real knowledge of God as an adult (I was 28 at the time), and what the constant presence of God in my life could and even would be.

So God does work at pivotal “waypoints” to urge us forward as we seek to come closer to Him and discover what our lives and purpose are in the fullest and most complete sense.

I look forward to the next chapter in this series.

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May 22Liked by Theresa "Sam" Houghton

It's a big topic to tackle...I'm sure you will do it justice.

I'm definitely looking forward to following along and discovering where this 6-part series of letters will go...

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May 20Liked by Theresa "Sam" Houghton

I love the idea of this series. Beautiful opening, Sam. BTW, FWIW, as a guy, I also sought a reinvention in my teen and early-20s years.

I am looking forward to reading these letters between you all.

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