"Wake up. Stop yawning." My dad gave me a disapproving look. "I'm sorry, I am just so tired"...and bored, I thought to myself. Lucky for me, instead of casting anger in my direction my wonderful father took this as a cue to take me under his wing. From that point forward Sundays in the Catholic church we attended became a special time. We would sit, kneel, stand, repeat the prayers, and the whole time my father would quietly explain the service. He would share his insights and gave me a gift he probably is not even aware that he has gifted. He gave me an early understanding, a foundation of faith. My mom and sister were present at mass as well, but mom tended to my younger sister. Church was a priority in those days. As I embarked on receiving the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation, I actually enjoyed my time in religious education classes. I think that is probably pretty weird. Most kids dragged their feet going to their dreaded religion class. Something about the strength and the heroism of the Saints spoke to me, even at a young age. As time progressed, hormones kicked in and life got complicated this interest waned only to return after a season of doubt; even atheism.
High school rolled around and both my sister and I completed our sacraments. And like so many other Catholic families we stopped attending regular church services. Church became a distant memory, taking a back seat to the academic pursuits that grew in importance as college loomed. It now seemed as though everything I was learning directly contradicted the religious education classes of my youth. Science and history classes revealed the legacy of hypocrisy, deceit and even violence pursued by the Catholic church. This left me further disillusioned about the stories of the saints and Jesus that I had cherished in my youth.
My doubts grew into full blown Atheism. I was sure that the Truth belonged to science and that it was honestly and purely chronicled in the pages of history. Questioning everything became my new religion. Acting on the whims and impulses of my feelings became my spiritual walk. It did not take long for this mode of existence to devolve into serious hardship and dark times. All was not lost however. These dark times ultimately catapulted me into a new found, deeper level of spiritual understanding. It also inspired me to have a critical mind. Without which I may have eventually fallen victim to a dogmatic and legalistic approach to my faith walk.
My experimentation with substance actually catapulted me into several mystical experiences and resulted in my rediscovery of the Divine. As this rebirth transpired I simultaneously attended yoga classes, returned to the Church and underwent counseling. For several years I wandered through this maze of spirituality. I tried meditation, sound healing, acupuncture and Reiki. I received EMDR therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and devoured self help materials. As this spiritual journey unfolded I experienced many major life events. The birth of my son, a move out of state, marriage and the birth of my daughter all deeply influenced my understanding.
All of this searching. Years of peaks and valleys in my faith walk have led me to some profound Truths. True spirituality is alive. It is action, not philosophies and ideas. Spiritual understanding and scientific knowledge can and should be reconciled. They are not mutually exclusive disciplines. I am incapable of spiritual maturity on my own. It is only with the help of God that I can grow. He faithfully pours out His Spirit to all who sincerely ask and desire comfort. Jesus brings me guidance and a sense of acceptance and purpose. I become increasingly aware of God's presence in my life when I slow down and embrace the present moment. Prayer, meditation, yoga, art and evening running have been vehicles for me to do so.
It is with great excitement and anticipation that I look toward my spiritual evolution. Spirit is alive. Always nudging us toward peace, contentment and gratitude. My relationship with God has become my most highly prized possession. I cannot wait to witness and testify to the great things He has and continues to do for me and through me, for the good of others.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5