The Path of Spirit
I have lived a varied spiritual life. Before I started grade school, I lived between my Mom and my maternal grandparents. Once I started grade school, I moved permanently with my mom but we visited my grandparents often. My mother had joined the Catholic church and my grandmother was a Methodist. It depended on where we were and maybe my mood which church I'd go to on a Sunday.
By the time I got to high school, I chose my own church. I joined a youth group with a charismatic leader. When he left town, I moved on to a different youth group. Somehow in all of it, I felt like I had to be perfect to be a "Christian." That was the message I got from more than one place. I should be loving and kind, not smoke or drink or swear. Bottom line, be a good girl. When I decided I couldn't be a good girl, I quit going to church.
My mother had given up the Catholic church when the priest in the small town where we lived asked her how she got her sexual needs met as a single mother. I saw one of our youth group leaders swearing in public and felt like somehow they weren't genuine.
Today, I know a person can be a good person and still cuss or drink or even smoke. But for an impressionable teenager, the messages in my life weren't congruent.
After high school, I wandered from the Methodist church to a non-denominational new age church, to exploring paganism, goddess, and nature. What I found in all of it was a central core. It didn't matter what practice I used, when I settled into that quiet place within the essence I connected to was always the same.
The minister at one of the churches I attended used a prism as a metaphor to talk about the nature of God. God's light comes into this world as pure white light. That light hits the prism of our world and splits into all these beautiful colors. Each color, a different path to God. They were all part of God, they were all ways to access whatever you want to call your Higher Power. It didn't matter if you were Christian or Buddhist or Pagan or Native American or found your spiritual connection in the deep forest. All ways were a path to the light of the same Divine Essence.
I have been reading to my mom on some days as she faces her death. One of the books we've read from is "Space for God: The Study and Practice of Prayer and Spirituality" by Don Postema. My mom has been saying she's ready to die and has been somewhat angry with God because "he's" been keeping her here and there's no reason she can see for it. So, I read her the chapter Wrestling with God. The irony was it seemed like the first time I understood it was okay to wrestle with God, to not always feel loving and kind. Life is much too complex to believe we have to be perfect all the time. I don't know if other people have gotten the same message but it's the one I took away from religion.
My path has led me along a long winding road. I am at peace with my connection to the Divine. I used to joke that I was a recovering perfectionist. Now I am simply a human being, living a life the best way I know how. I'm trying to let all my emotions be okay. And I'm trying to focus on loving to the best of my capacity. Some days I succeed and some days not so much. But it's all okay. I walk among nature, listening to birds, admiring the changing of the trees and shrubs around me, seeing the varied mushrooms pushing up through the ground and learning about my surroundings. I want to connect more and rant less. All I really want is a little peace.
May you find much peace in this new year.