Five Years Ago

This has little to do with polytheism and is more of a personal post, so if you’re only interested in polytheistic religion-related posts, feel free to pass this one by.


In a couple of days, it’ll be a year since I moved out of the Friends House and 5 years since I moved to Boston. It’s been on my mind, so I’m processing that by writing about it.


When I moved to Boston five years ago, I was recovering from surgery that literally saved my life.


My kidneys failed in 2010. I was on dialysis for two years.Then in 2012, I had a transplant. It gave me new life.


After my kidney failure, I tried to convert back to the religion I was raised in, Catholicism. It’s not that I specifically believed in it or knew it to be true. Rather, I was in love with the culture of devotion. I was in love with monasticism and wanted to be a monk. I had fallen in love with the traditions that had been kept alive in monasteries. Life would be easier. Catholicism has traditions that are 1000 years old. I could find a place there, certainly. Hell, there’s a shortage of monastics. Today’s monks are older, less active. Many monasteries are closing down.


I applied to monasteries and to friaries. Even interviewed at one. It wasn’t the right place for me.


After some soul-searching. I couldn’t do it. I knew in my heart that I was not a Catholic. I couldn’t say the Apostles Creed and mean it. Once again, I became a Pagan but I still had a very vague sense of what that meant to me. Also, despite not being a monk, I still wanted to live in a community. I searched online for various intentional communities around the country.


Eventually, I found a community whose values I agreed with. Beacon Hill Friends House. It’s a Quaker-run intentional community in the heart of Boston. I interviewed and got accepted. For four years, I lived with 20 other people of various backgrounds in a mansion from around 1803-4.


While it wasn’t very much like a monastery, it ended up being exactly what I needed at the time. Though it was expected that one adheres to Quaker values (Silence, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, etc.), one did not have to be a Quaker to live there. In fact, I think that as a Pagan, I brought a religious diversity that had not been there previously.


I still craved devotion in my life, but I had no real sense of direction. I knew I wasn’t Wiccan. I knew I wasn’t a druid or a recon. I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with Sri Ganapati for years but I knew I didn’t identify fully as a Hindu.


About half a year after I moved into the Friends House, I met and fell in love with my amazing partner. She’s not a Pagan but has her own non-Christian religious practice.


Through the Internet, I explored more and found out about this new “polytheism” movement that was burgeoning. My interest in this led to me eventually going to California for my first PantheaCon. I got to see old friends there, meet people I’d known only online for years and years. I also got to visit the Temple of the Morrigan which was set up in the hospitality suite of a group called Coru Cathubodua. They were very new then but I felt something. Her presence. I have not been called to worship the Morrigan but it led me to believe that I was on the right trail. That people were engaging on a deeper and more devotional level with their deities. People were taking their religion seriously.

This is what I’d been waiting for.


However, the Friends House was not ideal for doing that. Though my religion was accepted there, I had to navigate sharing a room with another person, which made setting up worship space challenging. I was also navigating being in a relationship after having been single for years. I was also starting work again since becoming sick.


As much as I loved living there, the Friends House was full of complications. For a cheap room and dinner cooked five nights a week, we had to participate in House meetings twice a month, do chores once a week, serve on dishcrew for House dinner, be on committees. It was a lot but eventually I made all of these things work out.


I made some amazing friendships with people I probably would not have met otherwise. It really helped restore my faith in humanity. Unfortunately, the Friends House has a term limit of four years. So I had to move out. Last year, I moved into a place with my partner and it’s been largely amazing.


Prior to my illness, I’d been working seven nights a week on the overnight shift. My skin was practically translucent. My entire social contact was online. I was unhealthy and thoroughly depressed.


Five years later, I’m much healthier and happier. I’m engaging in religious community through this blog, through Facebook, and in other places online. I have an amazing partner whom I adore. I’m developing relationships with deities, with spirits, and with ancestors. I have many friends.


It’s easy to get disheartened when I look at the news and see the country teetering on the edge of an abyss. But there is so much to love about my life and when I think back on how my life was five years ago…or even six, when I was sick and on dialysis three times a week, it’s so easy to be grateful.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 06/28/2017.

2 Responses to “Five Years Ago”

  1. It sounds like you’ve had quite the difficult life. I’m so glad that you have found what you’ve been searching for throughout it all! Finding purpose and meaning can take a lifetime, and it is certainly a blessing when one finds it early on. 🙂 I hope you continue to find purpose!!


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