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April 27, 2005 


I found myself praying the other day. Not just “please God, help me get through this day”, but really praying. I don’t think I’ve felt like that in 15 years. I was hoping, more than anything, that Pope Benedict XVI would be able to make me feel like the Catholic Church wanted my presence, and understood enough of what I go through to make me welcome. About 15 years ago I went through a great upheaval in my church life. I’m not going to go into it here, but over the period of a few years my faith in the church gradually ebbed away.

My faith in God is unshakeable. It is a belief that is with me every day, and has never dimmed. I believe in a God that I can talk to as a friend, who will understand me. However, I cannot feel comfortable in a church. For years I have looked for somewhere that will make me feel like I did back then. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of it, in a hymn sung well, or a prayer that resonates. Mostly I go through the motions and wait to leave.

Years ago I was bought a book of religious stories. Most of them were rubbish (not to disparage the well-meaning Aunt) but one has always stuck in my mind. Briefly, it tells the tale of a number of people praying in church. They all have a white bird in front of them, in varying states of health. The bedraggled, almost dead bird, suddenly leaps to the sky and flies to God. Various other birds do other things. One perfect looking bird doesn’t move, even when the person leaves the church. It is explained that she makes all the right moves but her bird has been dead for years…

I hope that the new pope can bring my bird back to life, but to be honest, I'm starting to doubt it.