I read her words with understanding, and have experienced some of the same feelings that she described. Having grown up in a church without even a cross displayed in it, I now love gazing at the crucifix with Jesus upon it. I was baptized as a Presbyterian when I was 40 years old, but now am not sure if I am more at home there, or in the Catholic, Episcopal, Native American or Buddhist world view. Seriously.
I haven't been to church more than two times since Katie became ill. She entered the hospital in October of 2006, and passed away 10 months later. Yesterday marked exactly one and a half years since her passing. If you do the math, that's roughly 28 months of life without participating in church community.
I am very much "on the fence" about joining a church community again.
This is not because I have lost my faith. I have not lost my faith, but it has changed. I love God. That is the key to understanding me, my faith, and my world view. I love God, and I desire union with Him/Her, pretty much on a daily basis. I miss the Eucharist, and would love to partake of it frequently.
I tend to love the Catholic Church, but I don't agree with a few important things that would probably prevent them from admitting me as a member. I love God too much to leave Him/Her out entirely, so Buddhism is sometimes a stretch. My dear Presbyterian church has been through so much turmoil since Katie got sick (not related to that, of course) that, when I think of returning to it, I get a queasy feeling in my stomach. It feels to me like contemplating moving back home, after your parents go through a violent, nasty divorce & then a reconciliation; they may have a great counselor working with them, but the invitation to live with them again includes the potential for pain and suffering repeating itself. I can't quite face adding the potential for more pain and suffering to my life, at this point. Of course, it's just potential pain and suffering; it's not a certainty. But the possibility is enough right now to keep me from crossing the threshold.
Now, after experiencing what we did with Katie, from the beginning of her "mystery illness," through her treatment, surgery, despair, renewed hope, recovery, and finally, the necessary surrender of hope (and her dying), the image of Jesus on the cross is probably the most powerful image, for me, of God's present understanding of --and solidarity in love with-- us. With Jesus' mother, Mary, standing at the foot of the cross, it illustrates the fact that some awful stuff is just going to HAPPEN, and we are going to have to DEAL with it, but always with His help and love. That is why it is so powerful, to me, to see that Man on the Cross. Because not only is he a symbol for me, but also of me, and of all of us, here in this life. And by the grace of God, we have this symbol for a reality-check, a truth-teller, but also as an assurance that something is going on here that is more than it appears...something deeper is happening, when it seems that all is failing, all is pain and all is lost. That "something" appears to me to be Love, continuing to operate when all else is breaking down. Love brings with it meaning, sacredness, and gives us a reason for hope.