Friday, May 30, 2014

A Spiritual Journey

I am on a spiritual journey.
It has taken me years to get here.

Several years ago, Jason was asked to develop a sales territory for his company in an area where they had never done business.  Jason was only going to be paid on commission.  It was a very scary time, as I was a stay at home mom and we were living on one income.  

Several years before, I had been at a Springsteen concert and Bruce had mentioned Wayne Dyer and how his books helped him.  I don't know what made me think of that book when we were going through this, but I remembered it and I looked up Wayne Dyer and read some of his books.  I put his meditation CDs on my iPod and after I dropped the girls off at school, I would sit and meditate in the morning.

And I saw my life change.

I became a believer that we can tap into positive energy and abundance will come.

You can ride it like a wave.
I had already been practicing yoga for about 6 or so years at the time and this enhanced my practice.
I was going to a great yoga studio at the time (the girls were still in school and I had more time to myself) and my yoga teacher recommended some other books to me.  One was the Tao.

I don't know what happened and why I didn't read the Tao then, but I didn't.

Then, when Jason started getting into yoga, I gave him a copy of 365 Days of Tao Meditations.  I thought he would like it as Tao is so rooted in nature and Jason love nature and feels a very strong connection to nature.

Jason did love it and he asked me to read the meditations, too.  We have been doing this for quite some time now.  Each morning, he marks the page that he read with a ribbon and leaves it on the table where I sit to drink my coffee.  I sip my coffee and read and reflect on what I read all day.  At night, we talk about it.  How we applied it or what we thought it meant or how it pertained to our lives.

I was raised Roman Catholic.  My Nauna and my mom read me the Children's Bible and told me the stories of the Bible since I was little.  Moses in the reeds was always my favorite Bible story.  I attended Catholic school as a child.  My parents were super active in our church.

Spirituality has always been a big part of my life, even though as an adult I went through periods where I didn't attend church or belong to a church.

When we had our girls, they were both baptized in a Catholic church, but there were a lot of things going on at the time (pedophilia) and Jason, having not been raised Catholic, was not interested in joining or supporting the Catholic church.  It was important to me that we attend church and be part of a church as a family, so we compromised and joined a Presbyterian church, which follows the same Lectionary as the Catholic church, also has readings, a responsorial psalm, a Gospel reading and a sermon (homily) but follows a different governing system than the Catholic church, one with more checks and balances and more control by the actual church members.

We were fairly active in our church for many years, both Jason and I served on committees and taught Sunday school and the girls attended Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, were members of the church choir and had church friends.

But then our beloved pastor left and things fell apart.  Church members with their own agendas took over.  People who had been very active found other churches.  We started to feel more and more uncomfortable there.  We agonized about it and we prayed about it.  Eventually we went to church less and less and then eventually not at all.

We thought about joining another church, even visited other churches, but my parents had had similar experiences when I was a kid with the Catholic church and any of our friends who attended Methodist or Unitarian or Lutheran churches all voiced similar feelings and frustrations as to what we were going through.

I continued to read the Bible on my own and encouraged the girls to read and pray.  

But with the current political climate and the role religion is playing in politics, I started to not want to associate myself with certain Christian groups.  I began to dislike the Christian label.  Christianity has become about things the Bible is supposedly against instead of about embracing and loving others.  It is far from the message of Christ.  

I will be honest, although Bible stories have been ingrained in me since I was a child, I have never believed the Bible was written by God.  The Bible was written by men who wanted to control people.

In January, I signed up for an on-line non-denominational interfaith Bible study.  We were going to read and study the entire Bible in one year.  Although I knew the stories, I had never tried to read the entire Bible.  It was difficult.  But as I read, I found myself more and more convinced that the Bible was written to control the masses.  This became a topic of conversation in our online forum and one that became a heated debate, with surprisingly some religious leaders agreeing that the intention of the Bible was to control the masses and what they had to share about the history of the Bible was fascinating.  

I decided to learn more about the history of the Bible.  The girls and I watched several documentaries together and I read a few articles on-line.

This lead to learning more about the Koran--did you know Mary is mentioned more in the Koran than in the Bible?  And that Jesus is mentioned in the Koran as a Savior?

I felt like I was homeschooling myself and following all kinds of rabbit trails.

The thing that kept jumping out at me was that I didn't feel closer to God reading the Bible or the Koran.

I felt closer to God when I was meditating.

I felt closer to God when I was reading the Tao with Jason.

I felt more tapped into the energy of the Spirit when I was reading Eckhart Tolle's Oneness with All Life.

I found the words and teachings of Lao Tzu to so closely mirror nature and began to realize that we are part of nature, yet because of our organized, modern societies we have begun to believe we are separate from nature.  But most of us feel more at peace in nature--be it at the beach or in the woods or mountains--and there is a reason for that, because we are connected and part of nature.

Things just started to make sense to me.  To click into place.

Oddly enough, at the same time all of this was going on, I was running a Mythology program at the library and I began to see such similarities between what I read in the Bible and what I was reading in Mythology.  The Bible began to seem like lore, like an explanation, like stories that are handed down from generation to generation to explain things, to make people obey certain laws, to believe certain other people are more entitled to privilege or respect.  

This was difficult.  It was one of the most difficult things I have ever been through.  As I said, I was raised Catholic and I attended Catholic school and my grandmother and my mom read me Bible stories and I believed you had to go to church every Sunday and the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ.  But the more I read and the more I learned and the more I was exposed to other philosophies, the more I realized I wanted to learn about the other philosophies and the more I realized that those philosophies made me feel closer to God.

I am still learning.  I am still growing.  I am still evolving.
I have friends who are in similar positions, on similar paths, thinking in similar ways.  One friend's dad was the chaplain of a university in North Carolina and I was amazed at his insights and thoughts. Other friends on this journey believe that an organization - the Church - is formed because there is a need - spiritual dissonance - but once it is formed the mission of the organization is about sustaining the organization rather than actually fulfilling the goals of the formation of the organization.

I feel like I am in a very special, important time for myself.
I am open and I want to remain open to whatever the universe wants to teach me.
I have never read books that made so much sense to me.
My anxiety seems to be at bay.
I feel better than I have ever felt in my whole life.
I believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Some of the books I have read and enjoyed and recommend:

God's Word for All Nations by Delbert Erb

The One Year Bible by Tyndale

Bible History - excerpts from several books are used in our on-line study guide, which you have to subscribe to and currently is unavailable as the session is half over.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Ming Dao Ding

Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don't by Michael Losier

Oneness with All Life by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The following Wayne Dyer books are all amazing.  I have read and re-read them and the meditation CDs are WONDERFUL!

Change Your Thoughts ~ Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of Tao by Wayne Dyer

The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer

Meditations of Manifesting CD or MP3

10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace

I also LOVE all of Wayne Dyer's kids books and have read them to the girls and given them as gifts:

Unstoppable Me

Incredible You

I Am: Why Two Little Words Mean So Much