My Dearests Matisse, Phoenix and Ignatius,
So often we think that we are in total control of our lives. However, sometimes things can happen to us which shake our whole world and all of a sudden we are left with no choice but to question what we deem to be real. In the last 13 years of my life I have lost 4 children, a wonderful father and had to face my own diagnosis of a brain tumor that threatens my own life, or at least my peace of mind.
Whilst these instances paralyzed me with grief and woefully dragged me into a corner to wail until my soul broke, they also helped me make sense of my faith. You see, when you face despair, not only do you become enveloped in a shroud of overwhelming sadness, you also feel a deep level of hopelessness like all the air has been knocked out of you. You become embroiled in a powerless fight where despite how much you ache or scream or bargain, frustratingly you just cannot change anything.
However, when I recall the suffering of my own traumas, I also cannot deny that I knew I was not alone. There is more to life than physical reality. Many times I felt a magnetic presence surround me, something that protected me like an invisible cloak and kept me upright. It always felt warm and peaceful and it slowly began to liberate the tension which had suffocated my body. Whether it was just my spiritual acceptance, my ability to remind myself to Trust and Let Go or the omnipresence of God or Angels at work, I do not know. But I can tell you that in order to move through life with the good and the bad, you need to believe in something. You need to trust. You need to have Faith.
Faith is defined as believing. Personally, I found faith by accepting a presence in my life that was greater than my own existence. I found comfort in knowing that everything is happening for a reason, everything is meant to be and all the mechanics that rely on each of us to move forward is set in a perfectly timed sequence. Having faith helps me feel that my life is purposeful and essential and it plays a very significant part in my spiritual development. Faith has helped me believe that all will be okay with the world. It has guided me to move through the pain and taught me how to accept the things that I could never change. Faith and has led me down a path where I have gained a wider acceptance of all religion and my relationship with a greater power that has become the centre in my search for peace.
Your faith is not something which is hidden under a rock. It is something invisible that involves your need to surrender what you cannot control. It may take you a lifetime to discover your true faith because it will only happen step by step through your very own knowledge, your experiences and your own encounters. It is part of your evolution and it may continue to grow and change throughout your existence because faith is a life long process full of questions and doubts but it will eventually be there to save you when you need it most. So, just remember that believing in what you cannot see is not a fantasy. It is a real life testimonial that you are not alone, that you are never alone and how wonderfully comforting that is especially in your darkest times.
So kiddies, the whole purpose of covering this topic stems from your recent interest in the subject of religion. Your mature questions regarding the doctrines which dictate the rules within different theologies has left me to ponder how to address this topic with you in a way that will be respectful and also guide you in your own experience of life. I think as your mother it is my utmost responsibility to give you a foundation to understand how humanity and spirituality work together because simply put, religion is about certain beliefs regarding the nature of the Universe.
Religion is an external dialogue whilst faith is an internal celebration. It is however the link between religion and faith where you will find your true spiritual self. You see, religion no matter its doctrine, provides a collection of messages that you can interpret to build your values and your morals. And it is through this, along with your worldliness that you will find your faith. However, not all religions will sit comfortably with you and that is okay. You do not have to be confined to one religion to make sense of your world but you do need to find a belief or faith that makes sense to you.
My whole introduction to God began from a very young age along with the concept of fear. It was often drilled into me that misbehavior, disobedience and rudeness all resulted in being struck down by the next thunder bolt or punishable by repeating copious amounts of prayers as penance. I spent many Sunday mornings dressed in my finest being glared at by the parish priest as he passionately bellowed out his lengthy sermon from his holy alter or waiting anxiously outside the confessional trying to think up plenty of “evils” I had committed. I thought it was important that I showed that I was keeping score of when I lied or swore etc but also I just needed to fill the silence whilst the priest looked at me with such pity that I was not free of sin. From a child’s perspective, this form of religion was all very terrifying and intimidated and a very far cry from developing a spiritual and loving relationship with the Holy man himself. Basically, I grew up learning that God was not to be loved. He was to be feared so I turned away and any hope of believing in something greater was shattered. .
Now that I find myself looking at spirituality as an adult, I cannot help but feel such sadness in the way religion is still taught so carelessly. I spent years feeling alone and that I was not good enough for God. I felt like I was being punished for not going to church, shamed for not understanding and fearful that I was not obeying. But then I had an amazing spiritual experience in the mountains of Tibet where you stand on the Roof of the World and come to terms with your own mortality. In the vast silence of the Himalayas I finally found myself and my connection with something so very powerful that it overwhelmed me and flooded my heart with joy. It was on this life changing adventure that I learnt to open my mind to a different way of thinking which finally linked religion to what instinctively existed inside of me. I discovered a way of life that was spiritual and beautiful and was not in the least bit intimidating. I had found my own salvation and I embraced it with all of my heart because I finally realized that my relationship with God or the Universe was just between us. It is based on a feeling rather than something tangible that can be explained on a piece of paper. It did not involve a congregation, or a priest or even rules. It just involved a little stillness and a silence so deep that I could hear my soul. So maybe that’s what it means when they say that God lives in us. God lives in our soul and if you listen, you will hear and if you sit still, you will feel.
My conversations with God or the Universe can happen at any time and any where but surprisingly my favorite place is within the walls of an empty church, where I am alone to savor the peace and serenity of its richness. I love to close my eyes and be present and just listen to the silence. It provides me with a sense of freedom as I am in no rush to go anywhere or do anything. I guess it is just like my own mediation. There is just a moment of stillness where I can truly be me. And there is so much glory in that: taking time to be you. I enjoy the warming smell of frankincense and juniper from the flickering candles and if I’m lucky, I can hear the uplifting sound of the church choir as their voices echo through the rafters like Angels singing in Heaven. So here I sit in my little world. I admire the magnificent stain glass window before me and notice how fragments of colored light reflect on the hardwood floors between the heavy wooden pews. So this is where I found my faith and this is how I have my conversations with God.
So my three Angels, lets be specific here. I am not religious. I do not follow a particular dogma where a specific set of principals are laid out for me. I am a spiritual being and I listen closely to my inner wisdom to guide me in the right direction. I live a theology where I believe that everything is connected and I have the courage to speak directly to God or to the Universe or to my Angels whenever and wherever I please. I also respect other peoples beliefs and I listen with an open mind. I know I am all this because I have learnt to shut out the noise of those who do not agree with me or who believe that their faith is greater than mine. I have learnt to Trust is something larger than I can see because I allow myself to feel and I trust in what I feel. And my greatest realization of all is that I am not alone. And I know that because whenever I find myself lost in that sea of darkness, somewhere I always find the light.