by Ivan Guarderrama
I've studied spirituality for umpteen years. My library has scads of spiritual books; I could go to college again with the money I've spent taking multitudes of workshops, seminars and retreats. Plus, I now have two prayer partners and we talk about spirituality every day. Sounds like this is a bit over the top?
Maybe not. I read somewhere that those of us who are seriously drawn to a spiritual path are probably in spiritual kindergarten and have a lot of catching up to do with our human classmates! Wouldn't surprise me in the least.
When I was thirteen, my father was dying of brain cancer. One day, in late summer, he was to undergo an eight hour experimental operation which, clearly, made it a
bit of a stressful day for me.
My cousin and
I went shopping for most of the eight hours...a natural for me when I'm feeling down or have any other excuse for wandering through a shopping mall!
We eventually walked past a church that was the home of Carmelite nuns. They're the ones who are cloistered and vows to silence to pray for us sinners. The church was closed so I sheepishly knocked on the door and a scowling nun (I never encountered one who wasn't!) answered the mammoth wooden door and asked us in a nasty voice what we wanted. (Probably hadn't used her vocal cords in awhile.)
I explained to her my situation and of course burst out crying since I knew my father was about four hours into the operation at this point. Scary stuff for an adolescent, or
anyone else for that matter!
The nun was having none of it and coldly told
us that we should have realized that they were closed and slammed the door in our faces. Outrage can barely describe how I felt that day. I never really went to Mass again and was convinced that God had deserted me in my time of need.
So it was a total shock when I was in my thirties and the "spiritual bug" bit me. I honestly don't think I had a choice in being such a diligent seeker. My interest just suddenly shifted and hasn't changed since...and that was after years of caring less and not having a clue why people turned to God for anything!
Now, whether you call him God, the Source, the Divine Presence, the Grand Designer, the Universal Force, or the Big Guy in the Sky, it's all the same to me. I just hope you have a teensy bit or a great big amount of faith in a Higher Power.
I don't know who He is or what He's all about, but I do now have total confidence that He's benevolent and here for each and every one of us on a minute to minute basis.
You know how you are sure of something in your gut - and there's no explaining why you know it, but you trust it just the same. In my case, after years of doubting, it truly is that deep down knowingness that gets me through the tough times - and we've all had plenty of those - and to appreciate the good ones.
I have a therapist who once asked me when I was in the midst of one of my devastating depressions: "Do you think God loves you?"With a shaky voice and lukewarm enthusiasm, I answered very meekly "Yes." My therapist said:
"No. He doesn't love you; He ADORES you."
Who me?? Say wah? Wasn't feeling the love or the adoration at that moment but it helped me immensely shift my mood just a smidgen and the words echo in my head to this day, even when I'm feeling the worst about myself. Hey, if He adores me, who am I to argue the point?! And that is even with my being convinced that
"I am just another Bozo on the bus of life."
Well, aren't we all?
My favorite writer these days, Gina Lake, says in her book,
"It is important for you to know that God is benevolent, because deeply believing this can change your life by shifting your state of consciousness. Knowing that you are loved, cared for and supported by the Designer and that you have an important place and purpose in the design has the potential of transforming your outlook on life. Knowing this can shift you from the ego's perspective of separation, fear, lack and conflict with life to one that allows you to be at peace with life and to
fall in love with it and be happy."
WOW. That's a mighty big promise. But now, I do believe all of this stuff. After thirty five years of spiritual study, I do think, I might have just finally graduated to the first grade in the grammar school of spirit. I'm a fast reader but a slow learner...what can I say?
I have to keep remembering that there is a God and He's got good things planned for me. Even more importantly:
"God doesn't work well under close supervision."
I surrender...I'm a believer...Yah, Yah, Yah, Yah.
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