In 1980 I was on the tail end of a quest to find God, a meaning to what felt like a pointless life. I still had friends within the Roman Catholic youth “charismatic community” and one of those was Mary.
Mary threw herself in to everything. She had a cheque book in a time when few young people had bank accounts and she was always telling us what a good friend she was to everyone. She was considered to be the best singer among us and she always got the solos.
I was asked to sing the Song of Jeremiah when my parents renewed my marriage vows that year. Afterwards someone told me I sang nicely but I wasn’t as good as Mary. She wasn’t a better singer than me, she was a different kind of singer and she worked hard at hiding anyone’s light underneath her bushel.
I drifted away from the crowd I’d become friends with as I abandoned my quest for God. The God we’d been told to adore sent his Son to earth to heal the sick but only if you believed in him. Unconditional love wasn’t what God was about, it was domination.
I became interested in mindfulness around 15 years ago. It was made quite clear to me that it wasn’t about sitting on a yoga mat doing breathing exercises it was a true meditation and one that I still practise.
I’m aware that I wasn’t looking for a God to believe in when I was young, I was seeking a spiritual path and that didn’t have to include belief in a God.
In order to find spirituality I had to look at myself and be truthful about who I was and who I wanted to be.I cannot live long enough to make all the mistakes I need to learn from so I must look, in a non-judgemental way, at the mistakes of other people.
So what lessons did learn from Mary? That spending money on anyone who happened to be around and singing was all she had. She had no friends, she placed herself in the centre of a group of people and made a lot of noise.
It isn’t possible to buy a satisfying life.