Articulating My Faith: A Seminary Journey

by Rev. Sharon Mooney

Rev. Sharon MooneyFor so long I had been longing to have my connection to the Divine deepen. Finally, God said, “Well then, notice that it has, and I can help you with more.”

I have had faith and an active engagement with God for as long as I can remember. I had fourteen years of Catholic school religious studies and six years of theology courses. Later as a middle-aged mother, wife and feminist, I turned to other sources of wisdom, looking for that illusive magic of Spirit.

My studies have covered many disciplines: Jungian astrology, the ancient arts of the Kabbalah, Tao Te Ching, alchemy and Tarot, Jungian psychology, eco-spirituality, and creative arts. Although I did not realize it along the way, I was building my Interfaith spiritual life.

Today, as a seminarian at Chi, God is still very personal to me. I am working to deepen the intimacy I have with my God, and at the same time God is more unimaginable than ever. I use the Pakistani Sufi word ‘Abba’ in my meditative prayers because it is the rhythm of ecstasy and the name of My Father.

I’m about the business of articulating my faith and spiritual beliefs. At this point I embrace the knowledge that my “culture” is Catholic, but my faith includes beliefs from other faith traditions, blending into a personal eclectic belief system. Although I attend a Presbyterian multiracial church, I also know God is everything from spirit to animal to plant to inanimate objects—not separate, but One. And at the same time, God is Father, Abba, The Son and Holy Spirit. I have, what seems to some, to be a challenging ability to hold contradictory concepts and beliefs all at the same time.

For me, God is actually not just unnamable, but as soon as I begin to talk about God, it is no longer about God, but my story about God.I believe we can experience God unconsciously through our bodies, and, that it is possible to have a personal experience of God through human access points.

Sometimes I run smack into God when I meet someone. It is as though God flows out of their pores like body heat.

I believe life is a journey for each individual, each group, each generation, each people, and all of us together. It is a tapestry of lives, woven together, frayed, torn and shining.

I learned a long time ago, there is no good without bad, no wonder without horror, no generosity without greed. In terms of why bad things happen, unjust events and situations, I bow down to my ignorance and inability to “know” why.

There are many aspects of life, which I do not understand: why some people thrive in spite of great horrors, while others are destroyed in it, why selfish people succeed and generous hearts starve, etc. I do not believe I can, nor am I called to “know” why this happens. I do believe I am called to bring all I am able to be into each moment, in living my own life and being present for others in their journey.

In terms of living and dying, although I am a relentless people person, I know I am essentially alone with God in my life, and the same will be true in my death. Even as I say that, it tears at my heart. How could I say I am alone with so many loving companions to travel with on this path, and my children so close with my heart?

So, yet again, I stand in the nexus of the mystery of the contradictions of life.

What I’ve noticed is that friends are now labeling how I am in the world as Ministering! I’ve always been curious about people’s stories and have an innate gift that makes it safe for people to share deep and even broken feelings with me. Now a few friends have jokingly referred to my personal “MO” as Ministering to Strangers.

We all laugh and enjoy the evidence of my spiritual studies; but really, something, I think, is shifting. A story is changing? An identity being rearranged? Yet again, a total new “Sharon, Version 6.0”?

Something’s afoot, and I’m trying it on for size.