This post is proving a little bit harder than usual to write. Not that I think the words won’t flow once I start typing (I can already feel them, chomping at the bit), but there’s more than a little trepidation putting this all out there. But after being on Instagram for the past year, and writing one deep(ish) post after another, I’ve realized one very important thing: the harder it is for me to share (basically, the more I really, really don’t want to), the more that I need to. And whenever I question that, or second-guess myself, God sends someone along to reassure me with a “thanks, I needed that today.” And slowly I’ve come to understand that I’m just a handy and convenient (and willing) tool in the hands of the Divine. So, in spite of the strong resistance I feel drafting this up, I’m going to do it anyway. I’ll write the words that want to be written and leave the rest up to God. Because I’m pretty confident She knows exactly what she’s doing.
The idea for this spiritual page came at the very, very beginning of this whole blogging plan. While I was arguing with myself over whether or not I had enough material to sustain a blog again (yeah, funny, I know) and what I was even going to write about, the thought quietly crept in — write about the saints. It seemed perfectly logical because my life had taken on such a specific and spiritual direction, and pretty much all of what I’d been reading for the past year had been the stories of these God-inspired souls. It was also an obvious way to incorporate a much needed spiritual facet into this whole business/blogging plan. Plus, can you ever spread too much God-Love? I don’t think so. But, while it might a be logical direction, I still wasn’t sure of the how.
The idea is slowly starting to become a plan that I think I can work with, but I realized that before I can begin I need to share my story. The story of what led me to the saints in the first place, and why I use them to inspire and motivate me on pretty much a daily basis. And this is where things get uncomfortable. Because I know there will be some (or even many) who will think that what I’m going to write about is pretty ridiculous. The stuff of fairy tales and daydreams. And while those opinions don’t make me question what I already know in my heart to be truth, there’s a part of me that wants to protect the soulful, beautiful pieces of my journey. Protect them from the ever-ready human doubt and skepticism that surfaces whenever the talk turns to anything more than those things that we can physically see and touch. But that’s silly. Plus, I’m tired of being afraid, so here I am. Uncomfortable, but sharing, because if I believe this to be true, then I’m safe. Truth can’t be tarnished.
So, I can predict this will spin out long, after all is covers a ten-year span of my life. But one of the things that I love most about this blog is the sheer, unchecked space. So much glorious room to write. Some could (justifiably) argue that it’s a dangerous thing in the hands of me, but here I am anyway, smiling a somewhat wicked grin, and drunk on my spacious freedom. So if you’ve gotten this far, settle in, my story begins…
Panic. That one ugly, little word has been both the greatest trial and the greatest blessing of my life. For ten dark and miserable years I just barely kept myself afloat in the quicksand that is panic. It plagued me from the time I opened my eyes each morning until I closed them again each night. There wasn’t really any relief that I remember, just a heightened state of terror, all day long. There also wasn’t any real reason why; my highly sensitized nervous system needed very little to flood with the flight or fight instinct. A stub of the toe, an unexpected noise, or even a smell was all it took to trigger the feeling. And honestly, I can think of no words to clearly define the feeling that is panic. The closest I can come up with is despair. Hopelessness. Darkness. Dread. And a desperate wish that everything (yes, everything) would end.
It was an especially hard pill for me to swallow because I had always been so fiercely independent and strong with a very definite don’t-mess-with-me attitude. And now here I was, reduced every day (internally at least) to a pile of rubble. And yet, through it all, I raised and homeschooled three girls, took care of many animal friends, ran a house and thankfully managed to not destroy my marriage. I pasted on that smile while inside storms raged and I fervently prayed that I could survive it all. Twice it escalated to the point where I was paralyzed by fear and unable to leave the house. And at least twice more I found myself on the kitchen floor, breaking down in the arms of a bewildered loved one because I just couldn’t take it for another endless second. But somehow I kept picking my broken self back up and mentally chanting, over and over, that someday I would be whole again.
Personally, doctors were of little help to me. My general practitioner was very kind and supportive, yet no one could tell me why my body and mind had become so broken. And so, of course, no one could tell me how to heal it. Physical issues created mental issues that created more physical issues and all anyone wanted to do was medicate one problem after another. And since I wasn’t okay with that, I took matters into my own hands, knowing there must (must) be an answer. And I turned to what I had always turned to. Books.
Books have always been my greatest source of knowledge, help, and inspiration, and this time was no different. I sought out book after book, experimenting and testing. One after another each test failed, but they were still important stepping stones that ultimately led me to higher ground. Each one had me looking deeper, cleaning up my mind and body more and more, and bringing me closer to where my answers where hidden.
Along the way I started meditating, not having any idea of what I was doing, but trying really hard just the same. Desperately reaching out for something, anything that could alleviate my pain. Turns out (some grace of God in action here) that I was reaching in the right direction and occasionally, when God thought that I really needed some extra courage, something supernaturally beautiful would happen in meditation.
She would reach back.
In the midst of such deep and endless darkness God turned on a light. Joy that far surpasses mere joy would flood my entire being, tears would flow, and my heart would fill to nearly bursting. How could such a sad and broken body contain such an enormous love? For fear of losing the connection I’d be afraid to move or to breath or to think, and I would just sit motionless and pray that I could stay there forever. But each time it would fade (always far too quickly), and each time I would feel fierce determination to find it again. Because in those moments I knew I had come face to face with God. Not as a theory or an idea or a belief, but as She is. And I wanted that. All the time.
More years and more books passed. I tried meditation technique after technique but none of them brought me back to that place. When the magic happened, it just happened, but somehow I knew it was within my power to get there intentionally, if only I could figure out how. It took twelve years of praying and praying and praying some more before I could make God believe that I truly meant business, and in response to my pleas, She finally sent a Guru. A Guru who held both the answers, and even more importantly, the key. It wasn’t going to be a short road, or an easy road, but all that mattered was that it would lead me to where I wanted to go. And without hesitation I resolutely committed myself to the sadhana (spiritual path) that my guru laid out before me. And thanked God (am still thanking God) for answering my prayer in such a beautiful way.
And finally I came to understand what it even was that I’d been seeking. Various religions have named it various things, and although the journey is sometimes different, the destination is always the same: God union. And I’m not talking about doing this after death, but in the here and now, while in these fragile human bodies. The path that I’m taking has called this state samadhi. (Which is, in a nutshell, the process — through meditation — in which you learn to withdraw your consciousness from the body and merge it with God.) To be clear, I never reached the state of samadhi in those early meditations, my body and consciousness were in no way ready to contain the enormity of God. But even that tiny taste of Divine love was enough to motivate me to spend the rest of my life seeking it until I reached it again. It wasn’t a matter of convincing me that it could be done, I already knew that. It was more a matter of illumination, of someone who had already found the way, showing me the way.
So while one can have only one true guru, one can (and does) have many teachers. And that’s what the saints have been to me — patient and persistent teachers. They all achieved this blissful state of God-union (usually through prayer and great devotion to Jesus) and each time I pick up one of their stories I feel tingles of anticipation because I know, before I even start, that they have something to show me: devotion, determination, renunciation, non-attachment, faith, trust, humility, surrender. And even if one isn’t in search of this Divine Union, I would still say the saints have an important message to teach every single one of us about the freedom of Love.
And that’s what I’m going to do here (on my spiritual page), share with you some of what they’ve shared with me. While they constantly remind me that what I seek is not only possible, but guaranteed (as long as I persevere), it’s more than that. They remind me that being a better person matters. To me and to others, but mostly to God. But I’m not at all interested in some theoretical discourse, it’s much more simple than that. It’s more along the lines of sharing with you what their hearts have shared with me. As I understand it, and as I live it.
And if you’ve stuck around until the end, thank you, I know it was a long one. But, yet again, the words wanted to be written, and so they were. Why? Not a clue. Because while I may be a willing tool of the Divine, I’m often in the dark as to Her plan. But I’m okay with that, too.
Have a beautiful day, friends.