I was confirmed as a Lutheran in the spring of my 14th year by my father and the church. “She doesn’t talk about it much, but I know her faith is there” said my mother. In the absence of real inspiration, I was going through the motions, doing what I was supposed to do. Neither agreeing nor dissenting, I allowed the spaces to be filled in by the tradition in which I was raised.
My *real* confirmation as a living, breathing, feeling, bleeding human began three years later on the rooftop of a building on the Tijuana coast. In a most painful of ceremonies, I listened to a man – whom I trusted and loved, whose job it was to guide and shepherd me into a fuller, deeper faith, a man whom I went to with questions and doubts – I listened to him tell me I was going to hell if I did no take his word for it and follow with blind faith. As I listened to his confirmation of my eternal damnation, the part of me that cannot be damned grabbed hold of my heart, ripped it from my chest, and ran with it.
It ran to the edge of the building, and jumped, holding my heart close, diving into the ocean, deeper and deeper into the depths.
I fell into a void that left me resigned to the possibility of an eternity in hell, until I recognized that I was already there.
Weeping, wailing, gnashing my teeth, the tension between self-evidence and the unyielding false-truth that was impressed upon me ripped me apart. No where to turn, I turned inward. I stepped into the darkness, the unknown, the great fog of the mystery of life, alone, as we all must. I cauterized the torn edges of my emotions; tied tourniquets around the profuse bleeding of limbs dismembered. The most important work I did was to carefully, surgically remove the splinters of shattered trust buried deep in my heart.
My world was collapsed, and as I sought out other religions, traditions, and teachings to answer the ultimate questions gnawing at my marrow, it quickly became clear that nothing would suffice. Nothing fit.
My saving grace came in a book. “Read this,” she said, “I don’t normally lend it to people, but it seems right to lend it to you.” This book contained no answers; it told no stories and made no claims. Instead it quietly reminded me what I already knew: you are the answer. Permission was granted to listen to the voice in me, the one no one else can hear; to once again – or perhaps for the very first time – read the scriptures written on my heart. This book gave me back to myself.
As I read, the part of me that cannot will not be damned, heard the whispering call. It stirred in the depths of the ocean and rose to the surface with my heart, now expurgated of all things holier-than-thou, in its hands. Only the naked and the sacred remained, bleeding in the moonlight.
My reclamation of this un-damn-able part was yet another confirmation, and an initiation. Witnessed by the sky above and the earth below, I confirmed myself as a seeker, doubter, questioner. A, not-going-to-take-your-word-for-it-have-to-taste/touch/smell/feel-it-for-myself-er, a path I continue with every inhale.