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We are all beads strung together on the thread of life. – Amma

I was a determined willful child, not easy for a parent to raise, but with these qualities I developed the necessary skills for living life well with extreme physical challenges. In my household growing up, I wielded a lot of power which does not make for a happy child or a happy family. Parents who are secure in their authority teach their children surrender, a necessary skill to avoid becoming an egocentric adult. We often learn to surrender to a higher power when we have a masculine influence who is in right relationship with his/her authority – not dominating to create powerlessness in the child, but confidently guiding the children toward empowerment and respect. As this quality is modeled, the child grows up with self-confidence and self-respect. Our culture is confused about authority and healthy balance rarely evolves naturally. When a parent is unclear of their own power, the child must learn with surrogates to learn their ego is not the center of the world. In a culture where egocentricity is the norm, many different forms of addictions develop. Fortunately, there are many paths and programs to help individuals surrender to a power greater than themselves. Life has a way of dancing us into the rhythm of a spiritual life, whether it happens consciously or not.

I grew up Jewish, but I received my first holy Communion in a Catholic church when I was a tween. My best friend, Cathy, came from a religious family where many of her aunts and uncles were nuns and priests. She and her brother were adopted from St. Michael’s Children’s Home very early in life. We were inseparable during the summers where we lived at a lake. Her family recited Stations of the Cross every night and I knew the Lord’s prayer and Hail Marys by heart. I often went to church with them on Sundays. We went everywhere together and it seemed natural to follow her when she went to the front of the service for communion. When I realized not everybody was following us, I looked back at her family who looked shocked, but motioned to me to keep going. I received the host that day. There was no fanfare, but looking back at the many different initiations in my life, that was surely one of them.

During my years of exploration, I also received a Gohonzon, a sacred scroll in Nichiren Buddhism tradition, I received 2nd° reiki, which is an attunement of the heart for activating a healing technique that transmits Universal life force energy through the body, and, in my teens, I was confirmed in the Jewish religion.

Although I received these different initiations through my 20s, I refused to believe in a God that was imposed on me, externally. Having read some of the Old Testament, I refused to believe that God was a man in the sky with a beard who doled out punishments to those “he” felt deserving. I would not suspend my innocence for such a harsh teaching. At this point, my will overrode anything I deemed irrational.

In my 30s, I participated in a progressive psychotherapy community which involved attending three groups per week and five-day intensives at the Gulf Coast beach. Through this concentrated experience, I was able to access my own authentic understanding of what God is to me. As I looked around the group and felt the love and acceptance I had always yearned for, I realizing that I no longer felt the depression that had been with me my whole life. I realized in that moment that all everybody in my circle wanted was to be seen and feel loved. In this circle of beloved souls and while learning to resolve any conflicts that separated us, I learned that love was the medicine that drew out the poison of what ever ills were in the way of our connection to ourselves and each other. In that way, I understand what Ram Dass means when he says, “All sickness is Homesickness.”

With this realization, an internal shift happened and I had the felt-experience in my heart that God is love. In this circle of my Beloveds, I witnessed one person after another transform fear that might have taken the form of anger, resentment, or hatred into love. My whole worldview shifted in that circle and I have not deviated from that belief since.

Knowing that love and fear cannot occupy the same space and having experienced much fear in my life, I have become adept at seeing the many forms fear takes by understanding all the forms of fear I experience. When I feel separate from others, either through anger outwardly expressed or inner self-loathing, I notice there is always a thought that triggers separating behavior. Identifying the thought that precedes the reaction can be transformative and restore the desired connection. Once this is mastered, compassion just happens. This is not an easy practice, but a necessary one to restore love and compassion for self and others.

My willfulness served me well to find my own experience of God, the Divine, Source. I was not one to follow others blindly. I believe everyone must arrive at their own experience of God and this perception will change as we change. It is not something that can be imposed on another person, in my opinion. Arriving at one’s own sacred sense of the Divine is one of life’s greatest teachings and surrendering one’s ego to a power greater than ourselves, no matter what one calls this power, is the only way to true liberation.

By finding peace inside of us, one person at a time, we can come together as a collective in peace. That is the medicine that is so needed at this time. Namaste. I bow to you.

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. more...

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