Lately I have been pondering the nature of the spiritual quest, you know…that moment where you see or feel something that causes you to open your mind and your heart in a new way causing everything to look a little different from the inside. I feel that there may be a misperception in society that to embark on this spiritual quest requires that we leave everything behind, venturing to the mountaintop in search of enlightenment. I’m not certain that is a practical way to go about it, nor a realistic one, and so I’ve been on the quest, so to speak, of another kind of quest that I’d like to share my thoughts with you about.
I just recently finished a book by ex-nun Karen Armstrong titled “The Spiral Staircase.” It detailed her story of going into the convent in the 50?s and the horrific abuse and psychological damage done to her by those she looked up to. She desired to know God, and instead found herself on this journey through hell. However, something continued to move her forward despite the obstacles; an inner drive, an instinct and a desire to know more of herself. I realized after reading her book that she had truly profound moments that aided in her internal journey of awareness and understanding, that caused her to become stronger, more clear of her path and the wisdom that then followed catapulted her career as a renowned theological author. She has since opened so many eyes and hearts in ways that her life as a nun may not have.
In essence, she used her experience as a vehicle for her own self understanding and healing. She walked through the doorway of turning against God and religion, to then finding something truly beautiful in people’s need to honor and protect their beliefs and traditions. She could really find a profound sense of healing in honoring her own path of abuse through the honoring and accepting of others paths as well, and finally gave up needing to prove that one way was the right way. She found through years of dilligent research and study that all paths may be honored, and each person’s is different from the other. Instead of the path to God, she found herself on the path to uncovering and embracing her own humanity, which then allowed her to grow and transform spiritually.
I know, I know, it seems as if belief should come first, but you’ll have to read the book for yourself. It taught me that belief is not enough. It is more important to practice our spirituality and the only way to do that is to surrender to our humanity. Here’s the thing: I feel that embracing the painful parts of our lives is just as important in our spiritual path as moments when we are able to escape. Those defining moments that shift us, move us in one direction or another…cause us to get real with ourselves about what matters most, and that enlivens our spiritual world just as intensely as taking a meditation class or visiting a sweat lodge.
Reflecting on my life, I remembered one of those moments like it was yesterday. It was when my grandfather, an aunt and an uncle passed away all within months of each other shortly followed by the death of my grandmother. I couldn’t seem to get a grip on the loss that I was experiencing, it was a whirlwind…one minute they were there and then POOF they were gone. It was right around this time that I was living in Boston, MA and that was the place where the door opened to the work I am now doing as a psychic. Had I not walked into those experiences fully, willing to accept the loss and then attempting to deal with the pain of losing precious family, I may not have come to this point. It was truly a defining moment, one that has changed my life forever. It was a path way that allowed me to understand death and loss much more fully and embrace what I could not control.
I have realized it has been those moments of pain and loss in my life that have set me forward on a destination of sorts, to understand myself in relation to them, and to know more of myself all together. I fear that when we attempt to escape our humanness as in so many of today’s spiritual practices, we somehow start to believe that we are exempt from the fierce intensity that may at times be our reality. Our spiritual quest may become more authentic when we embrace the pain. Rather than attempting to escape what causes us pain, when we walk through those moments wide-eyed and conscious…that is exactly the place where real spiritual transformation begins. It is so perfect, actually. It is life, absolutely perfect at every turn and corner, breathtakingly difficult yet full of joy, beauty and inspiration as well.
It is only in embracing fully our humanity that we can begin to fully accept, honor and uphold our spirituality. One cannot exist without the other. Give up the quest of going to the mountaintop for enlightenment, because it may cause you to live a life constantly searching yet never able to be fully present in the moments of your life whether good, bad or indifferent. Enlightenment exists right in your backyard.
When this realization hit me…I felt somehow more FREE, much more free than I have in years. I came to the awareness after much internal work, and am absolutely thrilled I got it. I hope that in sharing it with you, I inspired you to start embracing your own humanity…in all it’s uncertainty, ups, downs, in-betweens…may it allow you to cherish the joyful moments even more.