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Taking Things Step by Step

Kayla Cooper

The Grotto

The GrottoDuring my time so far at the Mount, I’ve become involved in various communities. I’m an active member of Lighted Corners Art and Literary Magazine, I’ve found a fun group of friends to hike with, and I have stumbled upon a multitude of people who are just as obsessed with gothic literature as I am, all thanks to progressing further along in the English major. One community that I have yet to be a part of on campus, however, is a faith community.

Admittedly, I’ve been hesitant to get involved in Catholic spaces at the Mount. Although I had grown up in an affirming and loving Catholic environment, I still was worried about whether or not I would be accepted in Catholic spaces on campus. Unfortunately, this is a reality that many religious LGBTQ+ people face. There are certain worries that come with being Queer in faith communities, often stemming from a long history of Queer people being ostracized from them. With tension between the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church on the rise, many LGBTQ+ Catholics feel pushed out of faith communities.

Last year, with some encouragement from my roommate, I briefly joined a Bible study. I was seeking a space where ICandles at the Grotto with the plaque "Give God The Glory" could grow in faith and make some more Catholic friends along the way. In that group, initially, I felt a little out of place. I was the only openly Queer person, as far as I knew, in the Bible study. Being unapologetically Queer in religious spaces can come with a level of worry that sadly many LGBTQ+ Christians know all too well. Every single person in that group was kind and loving, and I never once felt ostracized. Still, I felt a level of discomfort that I couldn't quite articulate. After some soul searching, I found that those feelings of discomfort stemmed from a place of fear. I realized that I needed to take some smaller steps to reconnect with Catholic spaces.

This past month I had gone through a few personal hardships. I felt that I needed to spend some time in prayer, so on a whim, I hiked up to the Grotto early before my Friday morning classes. Last time I had visited the Grotto, I was just months away from graduating high school, and figured it was due time that I went again.

It was a rainy, misty morning, and far too early for my liking, but I still felt called to go. So, I trudged my way step by endless step, until I was face to face with the entrance to the Grotto. Along the way, walking through the Grotto, I felt a sense of belonging to my faith in a way that I hadn't in some time. I was completely alone, but I never once felt lonely. By the time I had reached the “quite zone” sign, I felt as though I was perfectly at peace in this space.

The water spring near the GrottoStumbling up to the Grotto that morning helped me realize that sometimes it’s okay to take things one step at a time, even literally. I paused, I reflected, and I continued to walk up to the Grotto at my own pace. What I also wish to do is pause, reflect, and continue to go at my own pace when joining faith communities on campus. I am incredibly hopeful that I will find a faith community here at the Mount where I feel completely at ease. It’s just a matter of taking the first small step forward.

As always, thank you for reading. Be sure to check out the other My View of MSMU bloggers this week!

Kayla Cooper