I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school and church every Sunday, and I liked it well enough, it was “normal.” I had two ideas about God as a very young kid 1) If we all got together in a circle and held hands, what was in the center was God; and 2) There had to be a planet for each choice in life (if i wanted PB&J and got a salami sandwich, lucky me on some other planet was having PB&J). I couldn’t imagine God could let you hold so deep a desire and not have it be fulfilled. I mean, why even have it? But, in general, it went down like the bible said and God was alternatingly terrifying and comforting and it was all kindof weird, but i got on with it.
Somewhere in high school I got a sense of Jesus as an individual and that deepened my experience of the otherwise rote religious activities I’d engage in from time to time. My junior year I read a card I’ve written about…”the oldest wisdom in the world tells us we can unite with God whilst in the body. for that man is truly born.” … well, obviously! But I’d literally never thought about it before. I’d thought about joining God in heaven and liked that idea well enough and tried to be a good person so i could earn it, but connecting with God whilst in the body? Sign. me. up.
Enter Joseph Campbell and the power of myth series with bill moyers (sorry for no capitals) and most specifically a wall carving of ‘the three faces of god’ – a central full face and two profiles to either side of it, one male and one female. He described that if you focus on the central face, you can take it all in, but if you look left or right, you really can’t stop looking between them. Your attention simply can’t be full. Or at least that’s how I heard him.
Next up was the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ wherein they describe the seven tests of the Christ which Jesus took. In the first one, upon Jesus’ arrival at the temple he is shown to his quarters, told the test will begin tomorrow, and left alone. enter two people from a secret door who plead with him to follow them – that the elders of the temple know he will succeed and are jealous and plotting to kill him. He sorta laughs them off – “uhm, thanks for coming, guys, but fear doesn’t motivate me, so the chances of me following you -even to save my own life – are nil. have a good day, though!”
This brought that figure of the Christ into the realm of not just an individual, but an individual who, as a matter of character, makes good choices. Always chooses God. Wholeness. Love.
Yeah, I was hooked. Thus followed hundreds of books and the occasional movie (the first, “Mindwalk” and “brief history of time” then things like ‘what the bleep’ and ‘i heart huckabees’ many years later) and the slow acquisition of practices, from A Course In Miracles to yoga to (under duress) meditation (maybe that’s the next story)
Spirituality was in my top 5 priorities all of my life. And then in the top 3. It wasn’t until my health became my #1 focus and priority for long enough that I could get it flexible enough to transition and make spirituality #1. That’s the greatest gift this illness gave me. Priorities and practices to tend to my own garden as an expression of life itself. Yes, please.
I read a bumper sticker once: “If God is your co-pilot, you’re in the wrong seat”