I have always considered myself to be deeply spiritual. Even though I have a poor memory, so there is much that I don’t remember about earlier years of my life, what I am able to recollect is the power that spirituality has always shown in my life.
Now, I am not really talking about religion here, except in the sense of how my spirituality has shown itself over the years. I am talking about a longing, a connection, a deep sensitivity to a realm totally outside of myself, yet part of me at the same time. Larger than anything in this world, yet small enough to fit inside my soul. The fear of the unknown, colliding with the peacefulness of knowing that all will be okay, all will be well.
Let me start by talking about my earliest memories of my spiritual experiences. I remember in my early teens, going to our local Catholic church, with my family for the biggies: Easter, Christmas Eve, Good Friday…….. and the part that connected me to that spiritual side of myself was not so much the hymns, the prayers said in unison, the connection with others in the pews; it was the feeling of being in the presence of God, the knowledge that he was there, in that space, with us and watching over us. It was the incense and the candles and the sense that as current as I was, I was also in a time long ago, on the roads that Jesus walked……… spirituality at that time in my life, was observed by many, but it felt very much individual to me. My experience felt personal, I never spoke about it to anyone, and I really experienced most intensely when I was in a church.
As my teen years went by, I also found some connection with nature. I am Native American by heritage, of the Poarch Band Creek Nation from the state of Alabama, and enjoyed buying books and gaining knowledge about tribes, and spirits, and loving the earth. Being connected to animals, earth, and water also helped bring me a sense of soul, purpose, and connection. But it was still personally my own; I did not share it with others, I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself.
When I entered college, a Catholic college, I spent a great deal of time my first year in the Chapel, which was on the ground floor of my dorm. When it was late, and I was unable to sleep, and was plagued with concerns or worries, I went there for solace, for peace, for connection. I went during formal services also, sometimes even singing with the folk group, but my experience remained my own, my own journey, my own searching for God in those spaces alone.
In my twenties, I turned my back on churches. I was so sick and tired of churches judging me, judging others like me, putting restrictions and expectations on how I should worship, how I would be worthy to worship. I again turned to my Native American roots, I spent a lot of time alone, soul searching, I read many books, I sat by water, I grew my hair, I even had a vision of sorts; so, I saw spiritual connection in all that was living and part of the earth. I no longer darkened a church door to find it there. I was beginning to find it in the world at large.
Now, in these middle years of my time here on earth, my spiritual connection seems almost limitless. It doesn’t only occur in my little quaint Methodist church that I belong to; it isn’t only in the deer that run through my yard, or the trees that I plant, or the stars in the sky. I now see God in everything; every person, every object, every event. I feel His presence around me constantly; I sense Jesus’ teachings and words in my every day actions; I feel the connection to the elders of my tribe of origin with every step I take upon Mother Earth. And, I share, I share my stories, I share my feelings, I commune with others of faith to also bring spiritual connection.
I have connected with what Melody Beattie calls the Divine Rhythm of Life.