The first writing assignment for my spiritual direction/pastoral counseling program was to write and record my spiritual memoir. I loved the process; it made me hone my thoughts from minutia to big picture. I share here now for posterity’s sake:
What an adventure my spiritual journey has been. I used to envy the self-assured ones, those with complete certitude in their faith (and lives, in general). My truth, however, is that I’ve always been a seeker. I used to run from this fact; it made me feel inadequate. But that was only a made-up story in my head, due in part to a dis-regulated nervous system that is finally healing—the main block that has kept me from trusting myself, God, and from living into my fullness. Today I have deep faith in God and recognize that everything has been divinely timed.
My spiritual heritage was a casual (nearly non-existent) Christianity. Mom told me we believed in Jesus but I’ve never been to church with my whole family. I remember Sunday school but I also remember my grandma telling me she didn’t like people ‘shoving Jesus down her throat.’ To say I had very little childhood religious formation would be an understatement. There was no practice or discussion of faith and these varying messages, along with our lived experience made God a confusing concept, but something in me has always yearned for truth. Early examples include dragging my brother to church without our parents, regularly attending Catholic mass with my childhood best friend, and getting baptized my senior year of high school.
It wasn’t until my late twenties that I began to have more embodied, felt-sense experiences of the Divine. I dove headfirst into yoga, the physical practice as well as the spiritual discipline of the eight limbs. At the time, I didn’t relate it directly to God, but I see now that’s exactly what it was. God uses all things for good and my yoga practice was a bridge to deeper contemplative ways of being, now rooted in Christ.
I have had many life transitions over the years, but three in particular were major pivot points. The first was in 2000 when four huge things happened: my long term boyfriend and I broke up, I was planning a move to California, mom was diagnosed with cancer (which brought said boyfriend and I back together and haulted the move), my best friend was killed in a car accident and three weeks later, I found out I was pregnant (for my one and only child, Madison). This began serious spiritual discipline around yogic practice and philosophy. I became a yoga teacher when Madison was six, and was fortunate enough to introduce these concepts to many young minds at university for more than a decade.
The second major life transition happened in 2003. Madison’s father and I separated and I met my husband six months later. I knew deep in my bones he was my person the day after we met. It wasn’t a mind-knowing at all; it was a full-on body, ‘yes.’ I never experienced such a deep knowing prior to this.
And the third in 2017, as mom was battling cancer for the third and final time. On November 8th, she called to tell me she was giving up her fight and a few hours later Madison initiated a conversation about transferring schools into her dad’s district in order to realize her college softball dreams. While I agreed, that day started a 3-year ‘dark night of the soul,’ as I grieved two major losses. It marked the end of my yoga teaching journey as I knew it and has set into motion a fourth transition: a story that God is still writing in me.
Lots of revelations have occurred in my fifties. Yogic philosophy gave way to Christian contemplation. It grounded my faith, led to deeper healing, brought me to the Living School and finally to SGTI. Over the years I have formed a dedicated yet fluid spiritual practice which includes writing, spiritual reading, breathwork, embodiment practice, Centering/contemplative prayer, mass and communing with nature. I have learned to trust my intuition around what feels best on any given day.
“God protects us from nothing yet sustains us in all things,” is a phrase often uttered by James Finley of the Living School. This, as well as the concept of “transcend and include,” (Ken Wilber) helps me embody my life in rich, concrete ways. Finley also often asks, “how has it come to be that you are the person you are today?” To me, this points to the deep mysterious ways in which God works and helps me see that it all has purpose.
Everything is, was and always will be divinely timed and perfect. As I sit here reflecting, the God of my understanding is kind, all-loving, ever present, and has an amazing sense of humor. My road has been long and winding, but hindsight is 20/20 and I see now that I had to live into the mystery that is my life. Julian of Norwich’s quote, “all shall be well …” makes perfect sense, not to my head, but to my heart … mine is a deep embodied faith, because of (not in spite of) the range of experiences that have comprised my spiritual life. Our world is saturated with the love of an ever-present God; we are never alone.
The second part of the assignment was to record it. Included below.