Updated: Sep 12, 2020
One particularly illuminating assignment from my studies in spiritual guidance was the writing of a spiritual autobiography. My first insight as I wrote: my spiritual story begins not with me, but with my father.
It was his response to the requirements that the Roman Catholic Church made upon him, an Episcopalian, in order to marry my Catholic mother, where I realized my story began. Though he did not sign the paper the priest had put before him stating that he would dedicate himself to (and even raise their children in) the Catholic Church, my father did honor his bride by ensuring that all three of their children were baptized and raised in the Catholic Church. However, it took him nearly a decade after declaring his wedding vows before he truly committed himself to the Church and going to Mass every Sunday with the family.
Being so much my father's daughter, perhaps his hesitant and questioning approach to the Church became a part of my DNA. From the beginning of my indoctrination, there were certain beliefs taught in catechism that I never took on as my own. I never outwardly expressed my doubts over doctrine because it didn't even seem necessary to discuss. I had no desire to disrespect my elders and any questioning would surely be perceived as such, so why bother?
The deeper I got into writing my spiritual autobiography, the more apparent it became how I consistently checked in with myself and questioned the religion of my family, starting from a very young age. My heart and mind struggled over many things, beginning with conflicting stories of a loving and forgiving God with one who was vengeful or whose love seemed conditional and contingent upon "His people" following certain rules. How could an all-knowing, loving, and forgiving God attach so many conditions to such a deep and enduring love? To me, He couldn't, wouldn't and didn't.
The deeper into my own spiritual story I got, the more notable it was that I not only rejected certain doctrine, but also didn't feel conflicted or guilty about it. Obedient Catholic girl that I was, if something didn't ring true for me, it just wasn't. If it didn't feel right to me, it just wasn't. I don't ever remember feeling frustrated over this at the time, though there were likely moments I did. Additionally, I don't recall feeling the need to voice my dissent or express my own beliefs. Given my tendency to do so now, this almost seems odd. Almost.
In writing the story of my spiritual journey, I saw that in taking such an approach to my religion, I was playing along in a game, like my father before me. I saw the game as flawed, but worthy of playing. I just found it most meaningful when playing by my own modified version of its rules.
Also notable was when and how my spiritual beliefs began to increasingly shift away from Catholic doctrine and into new areas that continue to be refined- in experiences from the everyday mundane to more poignant moments. Curiosity and questions led to reflection and refinement. Confusion and consternation led to oscillation from denial to deep introspection and back again. By circumstance and choice, whether inch by inch or by leaps and bounds, change happened. Growth. Evolution. Transformation. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually.
Never once did I take my questions to anyone else. I never sought out the advice of any peer, family member or cleric. I never reached out to any church, temple, or other faith-based group. Over the years and decades, I was mostly a solitary explorer on the spiritual journey. Perhaps I would have arrived at my current circumstances sooner if I had had companionship and someone's support along the way. Perhaps not. At the very least, I may not have at times felt so alone in my spiritual seeking.
Today I continue to seek knowledge and practices that support increased self-awareness and ever-expanding awareness of how my choices, my presence, my very being in any given moment, impacts others. I am dedicated to enhancing that impact by cultivating a healing presence and channeling peace. And I've found friendships and a tribe in which I am supported as I do so.
Though today I identify as a Spiritual Eclectic, I am ever so grateful to have had my spirituality rooted in the teachings and example of Christ. While I do not ascribe to any one religion, through my own eclectic and mystical approach to spirituality, I do feel as though I'm living in greater alignment with Christ's ministry and Christ Consciousness.
I am growing in openness to possibilities and a deepening of presence to the unfolding of Life. My relationship with God is one of direct intimacy as well as public service. I am becoming more adept at balancing my inner life and outer realms in ways that allow for partnering with wisdom and cultivating peace. I am living with the purpose of not just bringing, but being the presence of love, hope, and joy no matter what I may be doing, where I am, or whose company I keep.
My final insight today as I reflect upon the experience of writing my spiritual autobiography: even during this time of the great uncertainty of a pandemic, I am committed to dedicating myself to a life in service to individual and collective transformation and evolution. While walking in the uncertainty of these times, I am open to learning from whomever and whatever shows up with me, including my fears, for the purpose of transmuting darkness into light. And I know that I am not alone...
Be not afraid
I go before you always
Come follow me
And I will give you rest.