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Having been born into and raised in the Catholic tradition, that was the sum total of my faith and belief. I was comfortable with the edicts and rituals that were established centuries ago. I married a man of the same faith, as did my four sisters. We all appreciated the morality and disipline of this religion and wanted our children to be raised and educated in the same tradition.
When the sex abuse scandal within the catholic church came to light in 2002, I felt the same sense of disgust, as many did, and even though I personally knew of two children who had been molested by priests, the impact of this crime was very slight to my psyche. That all changed abruptly in 2004 when my son recovered the memory of sexual abuse by a priest from our parish, a man who had abused three boys at another parish before being reassigned to our church and school. The abuse took place in a hotel and my son dissociated and repressed the memory through twenty years of a very tortured existence. In the aftermath I was left with no faith, no beliefs and a mountain of pain and hurt.
In 2007 my sister gave me the "Power of Now" by Eckert Tolle. As I listened to the CD's, much of his teaching made sense and equally as much did not. How can we stop our thoughts and how can we stop the horrible pain that we live and breath. I had so assimilated the catholic religion into the core of my being and now how could I believe in a God associated with unspeakable evil. As I read church history and watched and listened to the news, god and all religions became an absurdity. In the name of God religions have used their power to molest, murder, debase, control and manipulate the human race. And yet, we must surely, at least up to this point in our evolution, have a base need for organised religion. Why else would churches be such a huge part of our landscape.
Now it is 2008 and Oprah has brought Eckert Tolle and "A New Earth" into the homes of millions of people across the world. We are all searching, we are all hurting and in need of a new perspective on a path to peace. Mr. Tolle came into our living rooms and other gathering places with a nonjudgemental acceptance and love of the world. He understands suffering, as he has suffered. As I listened and began to apply the principles of living in the present I began to notice a change in my perception. I have learned the importance of surrendering and accepting the pain of this heinous crime to my son and the effects it will have on the rest of our lives. When thoughts of anger and dispair, with their all-consuming negativity, enter into my mind, I tell myself that now, in this moment, all is well and I can move into just simply "being", and with that, I feel a peacefulness and a reprieve from conflict. Now, I know I have my work cut out for me. You can't take 60 years of Catholocism and flip it to a new spirituality. However, in my search for answers, I have found the beauty in stillness, the easing of pain in surrender and acceptance of what is, and in the practice of the now, of just being, I experience a sense of enlightenment, a grand harmony with the universe. That is God!
Whatever our beliefs, whatever our age, whatever our past history, we all have the power to turn off the noise and go deep within to that place of stillness where your truest self resides.