Student, Lover of Christ, and transplanted tree
In the last year, I decided to change my path of faith. I had been brought up in a non-denominational household; we went to Church nearly every Sunday and were taught to pray before my meals and bed. We believed what the Bible told us about Christ and the Trinity and were to do our best while working toward Heaven.
It wasn't until my summer after my freshman year of college did I consider Catholicism as something of serious interest. My current boyfriend invited me to Church with him during my second semester. Let me tell you, I was shaking in my boots to be there. My parents weren't necessarily jazzed that I was going, but I needed to know what he believed. I then started going more often, and during the summer, I would even attend Church twice each weekend; Saturday evening with him and his family and Sunday morning with my family.
As time went on, I began to feel so comfortable during mass and enjoyed everything it represented. I always joke that it's because I love rules and repetitiveness. But it is more than that for me. I felt like God and I were reconnecting. And that feeling continued into the new school year and only grew stronger. This fall, I marched myself to St. Joseph's and into the parish office. It was more of a clammy meander… but I needed to do it. I went in and asked to talk to a priest (something that I thought was bananas, having a pastor present at any time). I spoke with Father about how I didn't know what I needed to do, but I wanted to learn more about being a part of the Church. He shared some great advice and sent me on my way to RCIA.
The RCIA process was amazing for me. After my first RCIA meeting, I made my way out to the parking lot, raced to my car, and immediately started crying. I knew that I was making the right decision for me and that I simply needed to follow where God was leading me. Through my conversion, I have been able to learn so much and ask all of my crazy questions. I asked every stereotypical question that you could think of and am always making sure that the answers have Biblical support. After all, you can take the girl out of the hometown, non-denominational pew, but you can't take the passion for the Bible out of her. I was often relieved that there was support from the Bible for the Church's intricate and enlightening theology, especially when I found biblical support for many of the parts of the Church that I was raised to question.
While my journey may seem super great, it did have its hardships. I did not have much of a support system. My choice to join the Church was one that was not taken lightly by family and friends, and it still isn't. It was very difficult at times and continues to be. However, I wouldn't change it for the world. If it were easy, it wouldn't have been my journey. I found support in other relationships and made great new friends and mentors.
One of my mentors that I am most grateful and gained through this process instilled in me a passion for trees. It may seem very silly at first, but the Bible shares some significant passages regarding trees:
"For a tree, there is hope; if it is cut down, it will sprout again, its tender shoots will not cease." - Job 14:7
"But I, like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God, I trust in God's mercy forever and ever." - Psalm 52:10
"Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." - Matthew 3:10
And after some analysis, we see that we are the trees. So, here is my journey as a tree.
I was brought up with my roots strong in faith, with love for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I grew tall, but there were years of drought, insects, and disease. Eventually, it was time to transplant the tree, and the Creator saw fit that this tree would be healthier and stronger in a different forest.
Now, transplanting a mature tree is possible, but the process is not as simple as planting a new tree. Many steps are required for a successful transplant. The soil in the new location must be prepared and ready to welcome the new tree. The tree's branches must be protected because they are the most vulnerable. When moving the tree, one must be very gentle as not to damage the tree, but some necessary cuts and trims must be made. The process is a long one and it doesn't end once the tree is in the ground. Most critical to the survival of the tree is the aftercare. A transplant shouldn't even be considered if you are not able to provide water for the plant for at least the first year after transplanting. Now I could explain how all of this relates to my journey, or I could call this the parable of Elizabeth and encourage you to analyze it yourself.
I think a more beneficial use of my time would be to encourage you to consider how you have grown as a tree in God's forest. Are you a sapling that hasn't received enough light? Or perhaps you are one of the oaks towering over that sapling, taking in all the light and never sharing. Maybe, you have been cut and are working to grow again. You might be like me and have been recently transplanted? Or you may have been transplanted years ago and never found the necessary aftercare. Regardless, just think about it. Even do some Googling of trees and read some gardening tips. You'd be surprised how much they relate to your faith!
Most of this was written BC, (Before Covid), and I had anticipated that when this was published that I would officially be a member of the Church. It would be straightforward for me to be sad that I am not (and I have been sometimes). But what I come to understand is that when I walked to St. Joseph's, when I joined RCIA, and when I decided that this was my path, God knew. This was His plan for me, and I will continue to follow it and be a diligent servant. I may fail, but I will try again for Him.
P.S. I'm sure I could find a tree analogy for this, but I have finals. So if you do, please let me know.