TO CELEBRATE THE OCTOBER RELEASE OF MY BOOK THRASHING ABOUT WITH GOD, AND TO EXPAND THE CONVERSATION BEYOND MYSELF, I HAVE ASKED 31 BRAVE PEOPLE TO SHARE A GUEST POST WITH THE THEME OF #IAMTHRASHING. THESE ARE PEOPLE I HAVE PERSONALLY DIALOGUED WITH, PEOPLE WHO I KNOW HAVE RISKED A LOT TO WRESTLE WITH THE HARD STUFF THAT COMES WITH SPIRITUALITY. OUR FAITH MAY NOT LOOK LIKE YOURS, BUT WE WELCOME YOU TO THE DISCUSSION.
It was 2006 and I was meeting my business partners for the first time in person though we had been working online together for ages. I expected it would be an interesting gathering: I already knew that their faith and form of worship was very much a part of who they were. In fact, it was a big and omnipresent part of each of them. One was from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commonly called the Mormon Church. The other was what I'd call a fundamentalist Christian. And then there was me.
I had a life sized statue of Jesus. But he wasn't the only religious icon I collected, though he was the largest in size. In a room devoted to my icons, he kept vigil with Buddha, Krishna, Ganesha, Shiva, the Virgin Mary, saints, angels and many objects used in other forms of worship from Judaism, Hindu, Muslim, Shinto, Voodoo and Wicca. My spiritual library was stocked with everything from the Bible to Astrology & Consciousness. The scene was set.
Each woman, in her own way, offered to educate me in her chosen faith. I resisted, and with compassion, for the flavors of their worship were not to my taste. I had come to peace with my expanded version: there is just One, in and through all and I am a part of that One. As are they. As we all are, whether we believe it or not.
Several weeks ago, Mandy asked me to write a guest post for her blog in celebration of her new book: Thrashing About with God. I was honoured and deeply touched. I have watched my dear friend thrash about in her divine perfection ever since we met in 2006 and I introduced her to my life sized Jesus.
My own thrashing began young. I was taught a nightly prayer about laying myself down to sleep and dying before I awoke. I expressed concern about it, so my mother taught me the Lord's prayer. My father was an atheist. My first religious books were Tell Me About God and The Dale Evan's Book of Prayer when the cowboy Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans were all the rage in the fifties and sixties.
When I went to school in Japan, a group of kids had to attend catechism in the afternoons. I felt woefully abandoned: I thought it was a game show just like on TV. I wanted to play but my mother wouldn't let me: she did not care for the Catholic faith. She found it odd that I am always entranced by Catholic churches. I just wanted someone to tell me about God. The expansive One that I believed existed.
Eventually we returned to the States, but we would only attend church when we visited my grandfather. The Methodist church in Sebastopol, California was where Charles M. Schultz, the creator of Peanuts, taught Sunday School for adults; my grandfather was in his class and the opportunity to meet such a famous artist was my incentive. I wanted to know about God, but I wanted to create like God, like Mr. Schultz.
As I grew older my curiosity about the mystery of life and my place in it guided my path of discovery. I was a voracious reader and set about studying different books and belief systems, gleaning from each the similarities, what felt true to my heart, what allowed me to open to that Source within and without. I wanted to know God.
For several years I decided to immerse myself in the study of Wicca. I was attracted to the peaceful way in which the seasons were observed. I loved the ancient calling to worship nature, to be aware and in tune with the winds, the rising and setting of the sun and moon, the blossoming of flowers and harvesting of fruit, to take solace in the loss of light as the earth turns, to find a sense of service when the veils thin between the worlds. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to go within and to learn to listen to that small still voice in prayer and meditation as the energy of the Divine moved through all. Here, I could feel the essence of God.
Long ago, I would gather several friends to meet and celebrate the seasons: Winter Summer, Spring and Fall as well as the cross quarter days of Imbolic (Feb 2nd: Groundhog day), Beltane (May 1st: May Day) Lammas (July 31st: Harvest) and Samhain (Oct 31st: Halloween). We met as often as we could and the cycle of the year became more tangible, less lost in the commercialism holidays have become, and more rooted in tradition and nature. It was our observation that the cycle of life as we celebrated it grounded us in a palpable way. Though the group drifted apart after several years, a foundation had been laid for me. Another piece to the puzzle of the mystery of faith, life and beliefs. God was telling me about God.
Over the years, I developed what is called a spiritual practice. Mediation, journaling, writing, reading, gratitude, prayer, drawing, being present, there is much that goes into living a contemplative life. I thrash a lot less and open more. My faith in that One greater than myself that handles All has been my support and solace, for in 2010-2012 I experienced a divorce, the death of both parents, the death of my only aunt, the death of 5 pets, the death of a friend, the loss of my main source of income, the loss of my house, a major move across country. In effect, my life was shifting and the unusual path I took to form a bedrock of spirituality was the grace that guided me through to today. I ride the wave of God in action.
And it is today, that day of Samhain, the day where the veils are thin between worlds and the dead are whispering that all is well, that life is a grand and glorious dance of energy moving and flowing, of God appearing in all forms, always perfect: as Jesus, as Buddha, as you, as me, in the wind, in the dark blue night sky, it the warmth of the sun, whether we thrash, or whether we relax into the arms of the Divine, it is all perfect, as it is. As it always is. God is all there is.
And so it is.