Amanda Lawrence shares the story of how she became, in her son's words, a "reactivated Catholic."
Don’t call it a comeback! I’ve been here for years, in the presence of God, grateful for all He’s given me. Only, I fell asleep beneath the fig tree of life. Staring up as it branched out above me. Every fruitful limb held several fat, purple figs for me to admire. Each branch contained a different future that winked and beckoned to me. One was a family with a husband and a home. Another was an education with an excellent career. Independence. Other figs promised Portugal, Paris, and Prague. Otherworldly wiles whispering of lovers with queer ambitions, offbeat professions, and illicit substances. Dozens more figs I couldn't even discern, all at my fingertips if I would only reach out.
I found myself sleeping in the shade of that fig tree, starving to death without God. A cradle Catholic who could no longer taste and see the goodness of the LORD. A dormant girl, out of communion with Him. I couldn't make up my mind about the best fig to pick. So I closed my eyes and plucked handfuls of whatever was within my grasp. I wanted them all, but choosing meant loosing myself a little more each day.
Many figs wrinkled and went black with time. One by one they plopped to the ground around me, until one connected with my head. It stirred the Holy Spirit inside me and reminded me how I’d taken the Eucharist for granted. Another cultivated contrition within me. And another made me recall God’s will for it all.
It wasn’t long before I was back in church. A blue-eyed, silver-haired angel greeted me. Joy illuminated her face. “I’m so glad you’re here,” she said, smiling. She directed my steps to the confessional, where I acknowledged my disobedience and dependance on the world to nourish me in lieu of God. So sorry I’d been so stupid for so long. When I emerged, the same woman placed two pamphlets for praying the Rosary in my palms. I graciously accepted her gifts. Memories of my own grandmother came to mind while I prayed in my pew. All was forgiven within minutes of my penance that Saturday before Pentecost, awaiting Mass.
A reading from the book of the prophet Joel projected on the wall above the statue of Christ. It spoke to me. Reminded me,
The sun will darken, the moon turn blood-red,
Before the day of the LORD arrives, that great and terrible day. (Joel 3:4)
I found myself in line for Communion before I knew it.
The Holy Spirit made me do it.
The Bread of Life melted into my bloodstream, satisfying the hunger no fig could fulfill. After I was fed and nourished I felt renewed, refreshed, and ready to resume my duties in the name of God. My spirituality shot off in all directions like colored fireworks from a Fourth of July rocket.
Communion and faith formation for my son, who was only baptized as a baby, was my first order of business. A reactivated Catholic, he called me. "Reconciliation revived me," I told him.
It’s never too late for others to do the same.
Copyright 2022 Amanda Lawrence
Images: (top): Canva Pro; confessional photo copyright 2022 Amanda Lawrence, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Amanda Lawrence is a cradle Catholic, mother, librarian, writer, and speaker. She lives in her own little slice of Heaven on the coast of Massachusetts with her son and dog. She hopes to make disciples through wisdom, truth, and her service to God.