Dreaming of Brotherhood
When I was nine years old I remember my parents telling me, “we’re going to move just one more time.” They sincerely understood that it was getting harder to leave friends and schools as my sister and I got older. By the time we settled in Colorado one year later it was the eighth house I had lived in and the fourth elementary school I had attended. I learned how to break the ice and make friends and get along in school, but all my best friends had been left behind in moves. It seemed more difficult to make solid friendships, probably for a variety of reasons. And although I did make a couple good friends, I remember feeling like something was missing.
Over the course of middle school and high school these friendships were tested and strained, broken, and reconciled. I wanted so badly to trust and love my friends as brothers, and I tried numerous times to create such relationships with them. They seemed open to the idea, but heartbreak followed when I discovered the truth of their actions and words. Although I had many friends after that, I never trusted any of them with my heart or my true feelings. I just couldn’t be sure what they would do with them. Yet, the longing for a brotherhood never left me. In college I tried helping establishing a fraternity chapter, but discovered early on that it was not what I was hoping for.
The hope for meaningful and deep connections seemed pretty desolate and I forgot about it. I numbed out by smoking pot mostly, doing the superficial social thing, or getting enamored in relationships with a couple women.
But my soul was crying out to me. A couple years ago, before bed, when all was still and quiet I started to hear it, I could feel it, I didn’t know what it was then. I knew I felt empty but I didn’t know what to do about it. So I just hoped this ‘thing’ would be gone in the morning. But each night it was there, I went to some extremes to stop feeling this way but it had the opposite effect. The cry from inside me got louder. Then one night when it was roaring and I couldn’t shut it out or sleep, I looked into my heart and the sadness that met me was overwhelming. I started to cry and sob, and I lifted eyes up and prayed for help. “I need help, I don’t know what, but I need help, I don’t want to feel this way forever, I want to love, I want to feel loved, I want to know you, God, and know that I am not alone.” That was essentially all I said in my heart. Then I was exhausted and fell asleep easily.
When I found the Order of The Mystical Christ in Denver I knew right away it was what I had been searching for. There was instantly a part inside of me that recognized the truth. Not so much in their words as in their eyes. When I was invited to move to Milwaukee and become a novice my heart leapt in my chest, I remember that moment vividly. In meditations, I began having memories of times in my life when I had prayed to God, when I asked for help. Then one day the memory of that night returned to me and I knew that that prayer was being answered. Also, as a novice, I have six brothers here living in the center who are devoted to the spiritual work just as I am. The depth of trust and care and love that I have with them is what my heart always longed for. I never made a formal prayer about this one, but the teachers and priests told me, “God knows you better than you know yourself.” The experience of this brotherhood is a feeling I had relegated to hopeful thinking and perhaps even fantasy. What love it is living here in spiritual community!
By Jonah, Novice, Milwaukee