The Experience of a Lifetime

Monday, August 22, 2011

I wasn't really sure if I was going to write about this.  I would describe myself as a spiritual person, but my faith and beliefs feel private and personal to me; I share them with very few people.  Even as I type this, I'm not sure if I'll post it.

Over the last three years, I've struggled with my faith.  Life changes have caused me to question things I once knew for certain.  In hindsight, my life was full of stress in January of this year. I tried to prepare for my trip physically and ended up neglecting my emotional needs.  One night, nearly exhausted, I said a quick prayer asking for a spiritual experience in Manila.  I had read that not only are the Philippines nearly 90% Catholic (thanks, Spain!) but The Church and the government share some fuzzy lines - almost sharing the power.

My second Sunday in Manila, we toured Intramuros (read more here) and the tour ended at St. Augustin's Church.  My home parish is also named St. Augustin's and it had been too painful for me to attend mass there in recent history. 

As we arrived at the church, a wedding had just ended (Sunday weddings are standard there) and I stepped inside.  Short on funds, the church had painted frescos on the ceiling; creating the illusion of more expensive detailed work.  It reminded me of my trip to Europe in 2007, specifically touring The Vatican. My trip to France and Italy was to attend the beautiful wedding of two friends, and the feelings and excitement of that day and that trip flooded my thoughts.

Calla Lilies (my favorite) were everywhere and I was hit by this rush of calmness and peace in the church.  My friends walked around and admired the beautiful architecture and tried to guess the statues of the saints as I sat in a pew to pray.  On my knees, I prayed to God for the first time in a long time.  I started crying out of relief.  I knew this was the moment I had asked for.  I wiped the tears from my face, but couldn't hide my smile as I rejoined my friends for the last few minutes of our tour.

The bell tower

Looks like a carving, right?

View of the alter from the back of the church

Beautiful carved door

Good luck removing that smile from my face


  1. I'm glad you posted this. It gave me goosebumps and then it made me choke up. I love you.

  2. Awww! I love you too! I miss you - I really need to plan a trip to come see you guys!


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