I was raised in a Buddhist home. My mother has practiced Buddhism since she was twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old. She was raised Catholic, but in her words it wasn’t working for her. In the 1960s in southern California there was an explosion of spiritual things. A Buddhist lady approached her and, as she put it, it changed her life. So she became a Buddhist and raised her children as Buddhists. From my early memories I was praying and chanting to an altar.
I moved to Tennessee and met a man who was a Christian. I wanted to know more about this Jesus that he proclaimed was his Lord and Savior so I took and religion course at a local college. My Professor, Dr. Dover, brought religion to life. He made Jesus sound like someone I wanted to get to know. He allowed me to do my research paper on Jesus Christ. That began the stirring and the questions and also a lot of doubts as to what I believed.
In Buddhism we don’t need Saviors. We are a Savior. We are a God ourselves. So why would I need a Savior? And how could someone go through that for me? It was too much. So I really started to struggle with who this person says he was.
I had promised my husband that I would attend church with him at least two services a month. They had a wall with a canvas that you could write your burden or a prayer on. I felt this literal pull up onto my feet, over to the wall, and I wrote, “Lord, I want you to forgive me for not knowing who you are. I want to feel your love and grace. Tear down my walls.” Without realizing what I was asking; what I was praying for I felt this surge of energy to go over to the cross.
I ran down the isle looking for the door because I could not understand what was happening to me. I ran right into the Communion Table. That was so significant because in my paper on Jesus Christ in went into great detail about the crucifixion. As I stood there very emotional, shaking, and crying horribly I heard two very distinct voices. One said, “This is not who you are, Cat. You are a Buddhist. This is who you are. You don’t belong here.” The other voice said, “If you don’t take this bread you will surely die.” It frightened me so much that I took Communion. It was the first time I’d ever taken it. Through my shaking hands and hysterical crying it was the first time I felt true peace.
I packed up my altar and returned it to Japan. I haven’t regretted that decision; not once. I feel alive. I am alive. Before, I was worshiping a dead god. Now I’m alive and He’s alive in me.