Me and Jesus, we go way back.
I went to Catholic elementary school. So growing up, Jesus was always this plastic figure nailed to a plastic cross, not a real presence for me. His words were referenced often at Sunday mass. I imagined him to be such an authority figure that he didn’t seem very relatable to me. In high school, I got very involved in our church youth group. At one of our meetings, I was reminded that Jesus (according to the Bible) would not approve of the thrilling new sexual experiences I was enjoying with my boyfriend. This was not helpful or affirming information, and did not encourage me to get to know Jesus.
In college, when I watched the movie The Mission, I realized I could no longer be a Catholic, or even a Christian. I was horrified to learn of the effects of missionary settlements on native peoples. I felt betrayed by the Church. I no longer trusted organized religion. Any reference to Jesus or Christianity began to seem almost offensive to me.
I began to read books about Native American spirituality, and leaned even further into my love of nature and the outdoors, sources of inspiration that I felt I could trust. My journey led me to meet and marry a priest of a living earth-centered tradition, Ifa and the Orisha from the Yoruba of Nigeria. I became a priestess of Oshun and Orunmila. My involvement in this tradition gradually unwound, along with my marriage.
Years later, finding myself once again without an anchoring spiritual community, I began attending a Unity church. They didn’t have any crucifixes hanging on the walls and they preached about love being more powerful than fear. Jesus was referred to as a wise way-shower. This was where I learned that I could relate to Jesus as a peer. He had been a seeker on his journey, just like me. And furthermore, the Catholics don’t own him.
This is when my real love affair with Jesus started. This is when I realized that Jesus was a freak like me...
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