The steeples towered high above, as if reaching towards heaven. The heavy wooden door creaked as I slowly pushed it open and stepped through the stone arch doorway. Light shone through the stained glass windows, their colours dancing across the walls inside.
Sitting in the church, the silence surrounded me and I felt enveloped by the peace and tranquility. The depth of that peace was such that I had never experienced before. It was love and comfort and sheer joy. It felt like home. It felt like where I belonged. And yet…that was crazy right? I had never been in a Catholic church before and suddenly after being in one for a mere 5 minutes, I thought I belonged there?
It began when I was 12 and on a school trip to Midland with my grade 7 class and again the following year on a class trip to Quebec City. Each time we visited some Catholic Churches, convents, and monasteries as part of our Canadian history curriculum. Each time I felt that same serenity wash over me. Each time I didn’t want to leave. It was a deeply spiritual and moving experience and I carried it with me for years to come.
I was raised in the Baptist church – at least for a time. There was an unfortunate incident with one church (one of the judgemental sort) and my family sort of drifted away from church for a while. Perhaps that’s part of the reason the experience of being in those Catholic churches was so powerful. Perhaps it was something more.
Back at home, I began to go to our local cathedral on a regular basis. I would go inside and just sit there, sometimes for over an hour. I timed my visits between Masses at first. I was a bit intimidated by the rituals, concerned that I would offend unintentionally since I didn’t know them all.
In time, I stayed for Mass, slipping into a pew in a back corner where I felt I could hide and observe. As time went on, I joined in and the rituals fed my heart and soul. They reinforced those feelings of this being where and what I was meant to be. I swear I could almost hear God’s voice in my ear saying, “Welcome home.”