“You’re an unknowable mystery.”
I’d never been told this before. The pastor with whom I was having a counselling session over the phone said it, and it struck me as both very simple and incredibly profound. It comforted me. Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD), I’ve spent the past few decades trying to understand the void within and figure out who I am beyond my memory loss, confusion, depression and anxiety.
After my phone call with the pastor, I wasn’t any closer to figuring out who I am, but it was comforting to hear that maybe I don’t need to. Maybe I never did.
He told me that I was an unknowable mystery in response to the frustration I was expressing about my sense that there’s something wrong deep inside me—in my subconscious, beyond my grasp—that is preventing me from healing and being who I want to be. I told the pastor that I felt I needed to access it somehow, maybe through an intense transformational experience like doing Ayahuasca.
He listened, and his matter-of-fact response was that sometimes things remain mysteries, no matter how hard we try to figure them out, and that’s OK. He went on to reassure me that even though some things about who I am may remain unknown, I could still move forward with my life and find meaning and joy.
With so much of my memory gone, accepting that some things may remain unknown to me for the rest of my life is a huge weight off my shoulders. I think I just needed someone to tell me that it’s OK not to understand myself and the many complicated things I think, feel and do. It just so happened that I needed to hear it from the pastor. What a strange turn of events for a witch.
There is wisdom in all religions
Why would a witchy lady like me want to tell a Christian minister about her problems and ask for his advice? Well, why not? I’m a spiritual person, as is he. We were meeting on the same playing field to have a spiritual conversation; we just play for different teams.
Actually, I don’t see the spiritual “teams” he and I play for—Christian and Wiccan-ish, respectively—as being mutually exclusive; rather, I see spirituality as a massive Venn diagram, and I see the place where the circles of belief overlap as a space in which I can have a meeting of the minds with pretty much anyone.
The pastor whose guy-next-door voice I heard on the other end of the line was someone on the playing field of spiritual conversation whom I felt I could really connect with. He helped me more than he may have realized, simply by listening and sharing gentle encouragement with an open mind.
This witch needs a spiritual community
Aside from my witchy heart finding comfort in his assertion that some parts of me may always remain a mystery, and that I can make peace with that and have a happy life, I also benefitted from the reminder that I don’t have to go it alone in my striving to heal.
I see myself as a solitary witch—I never felt compelled to join a coven. I generally like studying and doing rituals alone. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t want to be part of a community (or several). I sometimes wish I could spend more time in “spiritual” environments. If I’m a spiritual person, why wouldn’t I want to hang around other spiritual people?
It doesn’t have to be around witches and wizards—I don’t need a ticket to Hogwarts—but I do like the idea of spending time with people who believe that there’s more to reality than meets the eye, that things happen for a reason, and that there is a force greater than ourselves that holds sway over our lives.
Before the pandemic, attending Yoga classes helped me fill this void a tiny bit. Now, since my chat with the helpful pastor, I’ve decided to start going to church.
Shocking, I know. Why would a witch want to go to a church service? It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s more like the end of one. There’s no punchline: This lonely witch, longing for a sense of community, is taking Sundays off to see how she feels hanging out with some Christian folks.
As the good pastor on the phone reminded me, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Doing something different because it feels right, even if it may look or sound strange to other people (witches and atheists, for example), seems like a pretty sane decision to me.
The Christian precedents in my past
Christianity is far from foreign to me; half of my family is Pentecostal, and my grandfather was a minister. There are many things that my relatives believe that I don’t, but I also think that there’s a lot of value in Christian teachings. I just happen to believe that, for all intents and purposes, God is a woman. I didn’t let that get in the way of my conversation with the pastor, and it’s not going to stop me from attending the services he leads on Sundays. He’s just an insightful, articulate dude who happens to believe in Jesus.
I’m at least going to attend one church service. I may find that his beliefs diverge too far from mine for the experience to resonate with me, but based on our lovely conversation, I don’t think this will be the case.
There’s also the possibility that I’ll burst into flames as soon as I walk through the door on Sunday, but I don’t believe that’ll be the case either. I’ll just be sitting quietly in the pew, a low-key witch listening to a pastor talk about the mysteries of life and how to be happy because of and in spite of them.
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image 1: Peter H; image 2: Couleur; image 3: Pete Linforth; image 4: Holger Schué
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