For many people, their faith in God is supporting and sustaining, especially in times of adversity. I lived most of my adult life without access to this help, until I deliberately chose to open my spiritual door.
Not a church door, not a door to a brick and mortar structure with rigid rules and stipulations on how to think and act. I opened a door in my thinking. I am a product of strict Catholic upbringing, including 12 years of Catholic schools, nuns, and Mass six days a week. What I derived from that was simply a sense of fear, dread and sin.
Somehow all I internalized were the negative concepts of what not to do, how I shouldn't behave. In this atmosphere of proscription, I was unable to create an action plan for daily living. I abandoned my religion when I entered college in a large urban environment, and began a course of study that I pursued over the next several decades — a left-brained discipline governed by the facts of medical science.
Only recently did it dawn on me that this knowledge wasn’t exactly the best of replacements. Deep down inside, I knew I was always a "seeker," another person searching for "The Answer." I had gotten sidetracked by science.
In my case, the door cracked open a teeny bit when I was drawn to the popular realm of what some call the “paranormal” — I consulted a medium in 2004 when I decided to leave everything I had in Pennsylvania and take a chance on a new venture in western New York. She actually told me not to make the move, that it would be a terrible mistake. But I had already put the plans in motion, and went anyway (she turned out to be right).
As the life I'd envisioned collapsed around me, I dove a little deeper, guided by a new friend who was a reiki master, reflexologist, and "spiritualist." I began to read books on issues ranging from the use of intuitive powers to connecting with angels and guides. I felt I was onto something, but still struggled with a lack of faith. I simply didn't believe, the word meant nothing to me.
I felt like a lost and wandering soul who had shed childhood robes of Catholicism and was shivering alone in the rain, hoping to be swaddled again. To move forward and learn, I conceived a simple mantra. I told myself that I suspended my disbelief. Instead of thinking that I didn't, or couldn't, have faith, I told my mind to suspend the state of disbelief. This became a breakthrough moment.
I became comfortable with the concept of belief, and began exploring the options on my own. My learning was fueled by suggestions on Amazon and visits to New Age book shops. As my personal trials continued, I found strength in a firm belief that a higher power was aware of my existence and would be a source of comfort. I attended spiritual workshops, and began to interpret signs given to me by nature's messengers in the animal world.
Ironically, during all of this time I was taking handfuls of pills every day for depression and pain. That I was lacking a key component in my "treatment program" was never considered.
I am firm now in my faith. I think I actually understand the concept. The God concept that I created in childhood had to be completely dismantled and replaced with a new paradigm. I don’t “belong” to a church, but I interact frequently with people in various arenas, including a church-based drum class, a spiritualist learning circle, and sound healing scenes.
The keystone to my connection to spirit is daily meditation. I have only been doing this for six months, but know that it is essential to my own practice and progression. It is my major form of prayer.
I have several close friends who remain closed. One was raised by an Episcopalian parent, the other converted to Judaism to marry and follows those religious practices, but only on the surface. She admits to an agnostic mindset. I love these people, they are good human beings who have contributed much to this world.
When I’m with them, though, I feel sad about their closed spiritual doors. When they relate their woes, I want them to have the resource that I’ve discovered, the belief in spirit that can provide comfort and hope 24/7, all within yourself, without going anywhere.
They’re used to my eagerness — perhaps it’s a source of humor. But I know that they’re just like I was 10 years ago, living with my spiritual door closed. But they know that if they open it, I’ll be more than willing to help them see what’s behind.