For anybody who might glean something from my writings it might help to have an idea of where I'm coming from. I'm an only child raised in a rural farming town in SE Wisconsin, pop. 2000. Ethnically, I'm paternally Polish and Cornish and maternally Germanic. Religiously I was raised the Conservative equivalent of Roman Catholic but had 'Orthodox' Catholic cousins, Luthern grandparents and cousins and Southern Baptist cousins as well as friends of various other Christian denominations. I had no real contact with other religions other than from an academic point of view but comparative religion and finding the thread that runs through all has always been one of my interests. I was one of the most devout and knowlegeable Catholics in my age group and it was my dream from jr. high on to be a nun which was remarkable as I didn't know any nuns.
In high school I had a job as a receptionist for a seminary in my hometown and one of my favorite things to do was to take an hour or so after work for prayer in the chapel; my dad and I also would ride our bikes over there on summer mornings for daily mass. By my senior year of high school I had reformed my dream to being a cloistered contemplative nun and spent vacations and part of summers doing retreats and essentially experiencing/interviewing various orders. I finally found an order in northern Illinois that I felt was the right place and was set to enter the summer after my freshman year of college.
My, did the feathers fly. Not over me wanting to be a nun; I already had 2 cousins who had been or were in religious orders and an aunt who dearly had wanted to be a cloistered contemplative nun before a disease shattered her dream. My father was adamantly opposed to me doing anything like that before getting my degree though; what I did afterward was up to me. I told my folks during winter break my freshman year and my father threatened to disown me. Talk about traumatic. With all of that Mother Abbess suggested I take some more time and make sure this was the right thing to do.
I took the opportunity of all this chaos to intensely examine my beliefs and discovered that they weren't Christian and really hadn't been for a while. Makes being a nun kind of awkward. I have always had a relationship with the Holy One (ie. G-d the Father in Christianity) but had never been able to have a real relationship with Jesus no matter what aspect I tried to focus on. I don't get the whole original sin thing and can't understand the spiritual savior aspect of Jesus without it and don't see Christianity as a monotheism which was a big thing at the time. That was back in 1991 and having discovered I wasn't Christian I felt very much adrift. Perhaps if I had had the courage then that I do now I would have been comfortable being a Pagan but then again in all of this I discovered I have Jewish soul.