I strongly desired to attend a Catholic Mass on a Wednesday afternoon after a two-year hiatus. Of course, there were nearby churches I could go to, but for some reason, it had to be that one.
I missed the Church, the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Confession. So like a desperate lover longing for that one hello, one embrace, one touch of a hand, I set on to drive a long way one Saturday morning, unsure of what to expect and what to find.
Entering the Church felt different yet familiar. Different because the past couple of years changed me, as it did to most people.
I think events like a pandemic throw most of us, if not all, out of balance. People like me then didn’t see it coming. We were so engrossed in our own little world. And that world got magnified when we were forced into our tiny holes.
But after a while, the little world blew up and we began to see things differently. Our bubbles burst, and we realized we weren’t superhuman at all. Why? Because death will get us, regardless of race, religion, status, location, physique, or mental acuity. It’s just a matter of time.
So yes, a pandemic has a tremendous power to wake us up. And we didn’t even know that all along, we were asleep.
Now, why did I say entering the Church felt familiar? Because then it felt like home. I imagined my parents and grandparents asking, “Where have you been?” But instead of a long sermon, it was quickly followed by,
“Tell us about your adventure,”
“Is there anything you need right now?”
“We missed you, but we knew you would come back.”
And yet there was Someone else. And all I could hear Him say was, “I know. It’s okay. And I love you,” before I even uttered a word.
As I approached the priest to receive the Holy Communion, an overflow of emotion came over me. My chest felt like it was going to explode. It was so powerful that when I knelt down to pray, all I could ever say was “Thank You.”
The words came on repeat until the emotion subsided. I couldn’t think of anything else to say or even ask. Then, after a while, something dawned on me. Like a lightbulb moment, I suddenly recognized a straightforward truth, and it’s this: That all I need or could ever need is already in me.
Often, we search for what we want and desire in the wrong places. In turn, we end up miserable, unhappy, and unfulfilled. We occasionally experience the “highs,” but they never last.
When I pondered upon this, I thought we must be missing something, and now I believe we do. It has to do with our expectations about external conditions to fulfill an internal need.
“I will be complete when I find the love of my life.” (Meanwhile, I am deficient.)
“I will feel free when I finally get rid of this debt.” (Meanwhile, I am burdened.)
“I will be happy and excited when I travel again.” (Meanwhile, I am depressed and bored.)
Notice the thoughts that play in the background.
Relying on external conditions to settle, pacify or heal our inner state causes frustration simply because the external is limited. It can only do so much and never beyond it.
If I leave you with one thing, it’s this: “All you need or could ever need is already in you.” So try to ponder that thought for a moment and see how it liberates you.