I was raised Roman Catholic and never had a single spark or connection with anything that was taught to me. Eating bread that is now flesh? Wine that is blood? The resurrection? A human sacrifice on a cross? You can always be forgiven, no matter what you do, and get a clean slate just by asking?
We were in first or second grade, studying and preparing for First Eucharist, and one of the lessons was in the church. The priest opened the vault on the altar and showed us the communion wafers that we were soon to take. Our church was in that late 1800s Industrial American Neo Gothic style that is so prevalent in the Mid-West. Built before Vatican 2, the altar was on the back most wall with a huge sculpture around in. The vault was built in there and had 2 motor driven metal doors. There was a key hole next to the doors, the priest inserted and turned the key and THUNK THUNK the 2 doors slid open in order to revel the blessed body of the savior, a collection of round, plain ice cream cone style wafers. He then showed us his chalice and poured the wine and water into it, making a thin transparent red liquid that reflected the ceiling chandeliers with a little bit of golden sparkle.
It just all seemed so removed from my experience, these lifeless crackers and watered down wine. I had already experienced a connection with nature from the trees in our yard. I knew those trees were a family because they told me. Not a family like humans, but still a family nonetheless. And I could feel that they were alive with spirit in a way the blessed bread of Christians just isn’t. In fact, the church seemed to be a place that was devoid of energy. It was pretty, and had great acoustics, and it certainly commanded authority. It could also be quiet and contemplative. But I was never moved there, never felt a presence, never experienced peace, joy, or tranquility in that place.
I didn’t experience a void like that with the trees and I knew that was something I needed to follow.