I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about Spirituality. In my book, Manifest Divinity, I talk about spirituality as our unique relationship to the Divine (however we might define that.) I stand by that, because I do think spirituality is highly influenced by that feeling of connection. But we all have moments when we question that connection, or wonder if it’s even there.
There is something that sustains us, even through that “dark night of the soul”. We cling to life and are wired for survival, but WHEN people give up varies dramatically. We press on, going through the motions, doing what needs to be done or we curl up and check out. We continue to lean on the connection, out of faith or habit, we look for something “more concrete”, or we despair.
What we often don’t recognize is that challenges to spirituality often strengthen the connection. When night falls we trust the sun will rise again, because that is our experience. When winter comes we trust that eventually it will be spring, because we’ve seen that happen time and time again. When we have lost touch with our spiritual connection, and hold on until it returns that too becomes our experience.
For many people, coming out the other side is what actually crystallizes their connection to spirit. Having the experience of that dark night is the contrast that makes spirituality real. Someone asked me a few weeks ago what was the experience that gave me such a strong connection to my own spirituality. I don’t know.
I talk about playing the Faerie as a very young child in my book, When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deity Based Perspective. As far back as I can remember I’ve always felt connected to something. Those connections have been challenged in large and small ways.
My mother tells the story of her 3-year-old daughter “disappearing” on Memorial Day weekend. This is a big weekend in Minnesota. It’s when everyone goes up to open the cabin at the lake. They found me, with my dog, walking on the center meridian of the main highway headed north out of Minneapolis. I was, apparently, unconcerned. I don’t remember the incident, it had no impact on me. I know I trusted the dog.
I got lost as a kindergartener trying to get home from a new friend’s house. I do remember this one. I found a spot to plant myself and cried. A stranger (probably the woman whose house I was sitting in front of) collected me up and took me home. I’ve always had the support I need when I really need it. I also knew my own address. I have to meet the Divine half way, and do my share of the work.
Fifty years later I am again awed by the way help and support has appeared in my life when I needed it. I trust it, I count on it, because I have no other choice. I don’t take it for granted. I know I’m expected to do my share of the work as well. Some of that means getting up, going through the motions, and doing what needs to be done.
Spring is coming. Light and warmth are returning. The green peeks through and my hands are back in the dirt (inside, but in the dirt.) It’s hard to have any perspective on spiritual journey while we’re walking that center median overwhelmed by traffic. It’s the shift of time and distance that allows us to see how big the small miracles in our lives truly are.
It seems the more I start to feel like myself again, the more I am bombarded with emotions. I shouldn’t be surprised. It is typical for me to dig in and deal with crisis. As long as there’s something that needs doing I’ll be okay. It’s when things settle down that all that backlog comes rushing forward demanding to be heard. I have time to “feel the feelings” and I don’t like it.
I have so much to be grateful for. I got an early diagnosis. I have good doctors. I got to have laparoscopic surgery. Hell, I’ve beaten cancer twice! I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and the kindness of my friends.
I also feel like I’ve been put through the ringer, again. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I feel like I’m fraying at the edges. Some of that is simply age. I’m not as resilient as I was in my 20’s. I don’t bounce back as fast, or as far, and it’s frustrating. Some of it is that, although I’ve had all the help that I need, I haven’t had the support of a partner cheering me along. When my spirits sag, I have to bring them back up on my own.
What really challenges me, though, is the lack of security. I don’t have sick leave. I don’t have vacation time. I don’t have a nest egg. I am trying to build a new career. I’m looking into moving Orion out. I’m not sure, even healthy, that I can continue to live in my home. The cancer diagnosis just underlines that there are no guarantees in life.
Ostara, the spring equinox, is a time of balance and new beginnings. That seems like a good place to start. Finding the new normal, creating patterns and systems that are healthy, and hanging on to hope; that is the task at hand. As long as there’s something that needs doing, I’ll be okay.