First, I think about these things in regards to the Church. The reasons for this should be pretty clear: I am Catholic. None of my family and few of my wider circle of friends are, although many of them are Christians who live out of and often grapple bravely and honestly with a deep and alive faith. In light of this, prayers at mass for the unity of the church always come as a tiny electric shock of sadness and hope for me. I wonder often what a truly, visibly, united Church would look like, and I long for a day when we, or our descendants, discover that vision.
Second, I think about these things in regards to myself. As I look at my relatively short life, I can pick out various people that I have been, but the transitions between versions of myself, and the relationship of one version of Marina to another, are not always clear to me. In the past I've found this difficult to effectively unravel, and a project that hovers dangerously close to pure self-indulgence anyway, so I've let it lay, figuring that at some point I would gain the necessary perspective and distance. In the past months, several factors have come together to bring this project of integration to the forefront of my mind. My entrance into the Church is one of them; I find myself having made a formal move at odds with the community and communion in which I was raised. It has been more difficult than I anticipated. I have rarely been as acutely aware as in the past few months of the DNA of Anabaptists in my blood and bones. The kind of code switching that was possible as a quasi-anabaptist searching Christian becomes next to impossible as a confirmed Catholic. This is made more disorienting by the sense of continuity within myself - I'm the same person that I was as a conservative Mennonite. How did I get here without my community?
My formal change of identification has also, however, given me a new point of view on the rather fragmented versions of myself that lay in my past. When I visited my home community for a wedding about a month ago, I found myself mulling over who I was in this place with much more clarity and calmness than usual. Several weeks ago, I got an email from a good friend expressing gently but clearly their concern over my recent decisions, and inquiring about my relationship with scripture through all of this. They had seen in my public writing a pattern that moved from an engagement with scripture to an engagement with mostly Catholic authors, and wondered if the Bible had fallen from it's place of due primacy in my personal life. That email not only struck me with a renewed urgency to be purposeful about renewing the place of scripture in my life, but also led me to consider my past relationship with scripture, the reasons for my near-inability to read the Bible for several years, and - just now - the way that my journey into the Catholic Church really grew out of my efforts to approach the Bible with fresh understanding and perspective.
In light of these thoughts, I hope (between toddler care, gestating the second baby Lehman, fall cleaning, and sysiphean housekeeping) to take simultaneous but different tracks with these two subjects. First, I want to do some reading on church unity by way of church history and current thought on the subject. This may or may not show up here, or in other venues. Second, I want to do some thinking-out-loud in this space about how my past selves - who I was at ten, at fourteen, at nineteen - integrate with who I have become at the ripe old age of 25. I'm a little afraid that this is an excuse for extended navel gazing, but I suppose that's what a blog about myself will do. I hope, however, that in addition to clarifying my relationship with the past for myself, this will also be helpful for those friends and family who are confused, hurt, and otherwise negatively impacted by my decision to throw my lot in with the Catholic Church. I know that many of you don't understand how or why this happened, and maybe this will shed some light on that for all of us.