My road to redemption has been twisty. Take motion-sickness medication and follow me:

They don't make a GPS that would get you from where I started to where I ended up.

  • Catholicism:I was born and raised a Catholic with all the accompanying guilt and fear. I seriously considered becoming a nun named Bernadette to save my soul.

    I especially liked the halo. Maybe that's why I'm so fond if tiaras...

  • Atheism: During my rebellious and liquored-up teen years, I gave up on saving my soul.

    These are devout Atheists. I wasn't.

  • Agnosticism: I didn’t return to the Catholics and change my name to Agnes. I simply decided to be undecided about a Supreme Creator.

    Believing in nothing seemed ironic.

  • Methodism: I adopted the religion as part of my marriage contract. I tried to fit in. But I was a better Method Actor than a Methodist.

    Methodist were always meeting, eating jello, and being helpful. I wasn't ready for all the hugging.

  • “New Age”:Rather than believing in Someone, or no one, I dallied in believing in everything. I spent a year’s salary on books, workshops, CDs, etc. before coming to the conclusion it all boiled down to one message: I have the power to shape my present, future and past life.

    I met a colorful bunch of people and spirits along this path.

  • Buddhism:This set of guiding principles was meant to help people navigate life moment-by-moment. Like any “simple” moral teaching, understanding and living it is as vexing as herding cats. But I was 50 years into this spiritual journey and I decided to settle down.

    My goal is to be as peaceful as the tiger. Monks are unpredictable when outside of the monastery.

Finding a Buddhist sanga (community) in my strictly Christian region was like finding a vegan meal at a Longhorn Steakhouse. But I did. It was small and met once a week for an hour in private location. Careful word-of-mouth gets you in–they don’t advertise because we know how Christians deal with heathens.

History doesn't lie (although Monty Python stretches the truth). When on a mission from God, good Christian soldiers will stop at nothing to stop...whatever.

Back to the meetings…The first half hour was devoted to silent mindfulness meditation; during the remaining time, we discussed Buddhist topics.

Mindfulness meditation sounded so peaceful and relaxing. I suppose it can be if you are the Dalai Lama. But for most mere mortals, this form of meditation is like trying to control a tired child on sugar-high–your mind is the unruly child AND the frustrated ward of the wild child.

The odds are against the one supposedly in charge...

To any observer, all is tranquil: silence, rhythmic breathing. The task is to focus only on the breath, which lasts for maybe two breaths. Then the mind wanders. If you’re lucky, you’ll notice you’ve been thinking about your leaky faucet and return to your breath.

Once, as I was drifting, I was abruptly brought back to the room by a distinct fart. Rather than using the noise to refocus on my breath (like a good Buddhist), my mind danced with the fart-distraction. Here’s a recap of my internal dialog between my Wild Child (WC) mind and my Buddhist (B) mind.

Sure, this looks easy enough, but not when someone drops an unexpected bomb.

WC: Was that a fart? OMG. Someone farted during silent mediation! I wonder who it was? Does it stink? I can’t smell it. It seemed close but not too far away. Maybe I can figure out who it was. (I mentally reconstruct the circle.) Thank goodness I didn’t fart. I hope no one thinks it’s me! I wonder what other people are thinking. They must’ve heard it, too. I wonder if they smell it.

I was headed for the Danger Zone in less than 5 seconds. Impressive to drag racers; discouraging to meditators.

B: Lorna, stop! Just breathe.

WC: I don’t want to breathe too deeply. What if the smell travels. That would be gross! I wonder if the people around the farter are doing shallow breathing. This is going to make such a funny story…

I may not be the best Buddhist meditator, but at least I still believe in non-violence.