by Stephanie

Let’s tie up a few loose ends here. Recently, I posted a blog about my adventures in online dating. While I wrote it with only the intentions of sharing a few stories about my attempt to put myself out there in the dating world, the aforementioned good date with no follow up came across said blog entry and promptly emailed me to explain himself. I managed to get an explanation from the guy who never called–score one point for the single ladies (and for blogging). I considered that a victory in itself, but we hung out a couple of more times, and while I was ultimately disappointed to hear he was not interested in seeing me again, I was grateful for the few conversations we had because they opened the door to spiritual discussions I had not engaged in for years. I actually visited his Messianic congregation for a couple of weeks and really quite enjoyed it–despite the awkward encounter I had with one of the female members who felt compelled to let me know that she heard how I became acquainted with my new friend (cough, online dating, cough) and suggested I check out the rabbi’s podcast about being single. oy vey. ANYWAYS, after processing the recent conversations I had with him and with some close friends, I wrote this little piece about my spiritual journey, a little glimpse into where I’ve been and where I think I’m heading. It’s all good stuff. I’m a little bit of a spiritual orphan right now and I hope that I will be able to find a place that I can embrace and call home, but for now, I’m just happy to be back on the path. Actually under different circumstances, I might have considered going back to the synagogue, but I have high hopes that I will find the right place for me.
so here goes:

“Anon, to sudden silence won,
In fancy they pursue
The dream-child moving through a land
Of wonders wild and new,
In friendly chat with bird or beast—
And half believe it true”
Lewis Carol, “All in the Golden Afternoon”

I suppose I should begin with my very first adventure in Wonderland. Seventeen and prone to fits of whimsy, I jumped down the rabbit hole and discovered a world at once completely foreign and mesmerizing. Unlike the dreary landscape I called my Sunday morning home, this place was full of wonder and joy. Suddenly my world was full of color as I explored the many spiritual mysteries that unfolded (Curiouser and curiouser!) God’s presence was everywhere. Stodgy parishioners were replaced by my very own mad hatters and Cheshire cats—delightful characters eager to help me understand my journey (even though they didn’t always make much sense to me).
The first couple of years in Wonderland were amazing and full of unbridled romance and excitement. My happiness there had yet to be challenged, but as we all know, perfection is an impossible feat, even in a place as amazing as Wonderland. Villains lurked in the shadows of my newfound home and they threatened to poison the integrity of my paradise, and I watched as my world got turned upside down. Suddenly those colorful characters made much less sense to me and seemed to also be grappling with their own disillusionment. God’s presence was harder to find. Wonderland grew dark. Confused and saddened by the disintegration of the place I held dear, I climbed back up that rabbit hole and returned “home.” I closed the book on Wonderland and told myself it wasn’t real. Just a fanciful reverie—a young girl’s foolish dream.
I moved on with my life, but as the years passed, I never forgot about Wonderland and all of its colorful mystery. Recently, though, I find that I have stepped through the looking glass to discover that it is, indeed, a real place after all. Sure, the people look a little different now and I see it through a more cynical eye, but there’s no mistaking it—I’m back in Wonderland. This time, though, I’m not naïve to think that there won’t be villains (or even just casual misinformed visitors) lurking in the shadows with the intent on robbing me of my place here, but this time, that doesn’t matter. Life in Wonderland with its share of obstacles is still infinitely better than a miserable life outside it, so this time I think I’ll stick around.

“In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream—
Lingering in the golden gleam—
Life, what is it but a dream?”
Lewis Carroll