The Girl and the Moth: My Search for a Soul

The Girl and the Moth, paper collage, 2020

People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls.

C. G. Jung

Despite the lengthy title, I don’t think this post needs to be long. And I don’t think it requires much in the way of supporting evidence or intellectual argument. Because what I have to say is simple; so, it’s best presented that way...

I went to mass yesterday. And I had such a positive experience that I’m looking forward to going back next Sunday. (I was also overjoyed that the homily was about the importance of gratitude, of having a grateful heart even in times of suffering.) I spent some time afterwards reflecting on my attitudes about religion, the Catholic Church in particular, and how they affected my behavior over the past 20 or so years. That is, since I stopped attending mass and started experimenting with vague forms of spiritualism and various secular philosophies.

And do you know what I realized? I’ve been acting like a fool. Like an absolute fool. And what’s more: I’ve been working really, really hard at it. I almost had to laugh at myself. At the absurdity of the whole enterprise: I have spent the greater part of the last 20 years (or more) trying to avoid myself. That’s what it all boils down to, you know. All the searching. All the experimentation. All the shoulds. The clinging to attitudes that were not only stale and outworn, but that never served me well to begin with. It wasn’t until about a month ago, when I first desired to read the Bible—a quiet, though dogged, inner urging that would not be ignored—that I finally said to myself, Let it go. 

Because it’s exhausting. It’s like you’re always fighting yourself. I can worship God in the woods. I’ll become a Buddhist. I’ll climb the highest mountains in the world, and maybe God will be there. Or, better yet, I’ll find Him in my poetry. In my artistic visions. In the recesses of my unconscious mind. ANYWHERE but church. And not just church, as in a building, or liturgy, or nondenominational service, but mass. Catholic mass. Because I am Catholic. And to try to be anything else is to continue avoiding myself. It’s that simple.

There is nothing else that ties me together. There never was and there never will be. Now, I don’t want to diminish anything I said in previous posts about experiencing God in nature or developing a worshipful attitude based on those perceptions. To the contrary, I think those profoundly joyful experiences are what led me to this point. I am grateful for them, and I hope they’ll continue to influence my core religious attitudes. But they alone are not enough. At least not for me.

You see, I spent years and years trying to convince myself that there are people in this world who do not need religion, and I am one of them. When, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Those people might exist. And they might live good, productive, values-centered lives. But I am not one of them. I have never been one of them.

17 thoughts on “The Girl and the Moth: My Search for a Soul

  1. I’m not one of them either…and like you, it took some journeying away from it until I realized that church and God are a part of my very essence…and I am so grateful…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Same here. It’s both fascinating and kind of tragic to think how long we can go and how hard we’ll work at denying that part of us. I am grateful to have arrived at this place, too, and I am delighted that you and I have similar experiences. It means a lot to me to be able to share. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful realization! I was raised Catholic and drifted away from it (toward the joy of experience spirituality through nature). While I still don’t feel full aligned with the Catholic belief structure, I can understand and fully appreciate they journey you’ve endeavored on and the discoveries you’ve made. Cheers! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is very profound. We travel miles, mentally and physically, in search of something that perhaps was there all along, patiently waiting/ It seems to be a reminder, too, that acceptance is not the same as resignation.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. And I agree it’s startling to realize that what we’ve been looking for was right in front of us all along. This has me thinking a lot about Carl Jung. About the importance of incorporating the shadow…and how arresting it can be when our attitudes/motives/behaviors are made fully conscious.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Enjoyed reading of your experiences thank you.
        Re. People not needing religion, God sends the rain on the just and the unjust alike. So we can go all the way to the grave without “needing” God, But the greatest peace comes from acknowledging and honouring Him, which is mankinds responsibility, not choice. God is soooooo patient.
        It’s an amazing dynamic that Christ says deny yourself, take up your cross follow me and you’ll know peace that surpasses all understanding! John the baptist said ” I must decrease, He must increase”. He wants us to decrease of ourselves so that we’ll be full of the beautiful characteristics of Christ! Great to read of your peace!

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      2. Thank you very much for the comment. And it’s quite timely. Just yesterday, I was thinking of the differences between living a “good” or a “decent” life–a life that’s based on values alone–and living a holy life. And you’re right. The difference is the degree to which we let go and let God in. And we can go on our whole lives without ever realizing that. Thanks again!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. And thank you for your observations too, I think scripture says similarly to what you describe “the differences between living a “good” or a “decent” life–a life that’s based on values alone–and living a holy life. ”
    Luke 17 describes a perception of the “decent life”, it’s not necessarily the case that those living in Noah’s time or at the time of Sodom were all committing sins as seem to stand out as wicked, they were getting married and building houses, living “normal” lives, although there were some, maybe even many who were openly living contrary to God’s will, all of them had hearts that had no respect or time for God, and that was a sin
    they were judged for..
    26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man:
    27 People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
    28 It was the same in the days of Lot: People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.
    29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.”
    Romans 1 28 “28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; …”

    But what a blessing that Heavenly Father disciplines those He loves, He draws His children’s affections to himself through love, through Christ. His love toward His Children is incomprehension!
    Romans 8:39 “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Liked by 1 person

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