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I have been a deeply spiritual person my whole life-even when it wouldn't appear so to the rest of the world! I was raised Catholic and considered being a nun a couple times. During my roughest days, battling the morning after, I fell back on what I was raised with, and I'm thankful I had that good grounding. Yet once I got out and experienced the world at large (I'm from a very small town), and was exposed to new ideas, different religions, different cultures, what I was raised with stopped making sense. I started asking questions to which I was not receiving satisfactory answers. Fortunately, I have a very dear friend who, even though he doesn't know it, is definitely a progressive Christian. He told me about Michael Morwood's "Tomorrow Catholic". That book changed my life. (The book really really should come with a warning label: "Danger, reading this book will make you THINK about what you believe.") My friend and I have shared many books and ideas. We are making this journey together, hand-in-hand. My spirituality has changed in leaps and bounds this past year. I suffered a "minor" stroke that has left me mostly homebound, and I have used my time to think, to pray, to learn, and, (I think) to teach.

 

The ONE thing I have discovered that I think is the MOST important is that we are all on a journey and there is no one, straight path. I have learned not only to respect other's beleifs, but to incorporate that which make sense (both intellectually and spiritually) into my own set of beliefs. I have also learned that it is perfectly okay to jetison those ideas that I was raised with when they no longer hold any validity. My path has meandered - Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist (sp?), Islam, Paganism, New Age and back again. When people ask me what religion I am, I'm not sure how to answer. So, for now, I just reply I'm seeking my path. And then I ask them to join me.

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So much in your post echoes so much of my own experience, and as I've found in my relatively brief time now here, those of many others participating here. I hope you find your place here among us, at least for some part of your journey.

 

Jenell :)

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Guest billmc

Yvonne, thanks for sharing this snapshot of your journey with us. I'll have to look for Morwood's book.

 

Though I'm not and wasn't raised Catholic, Christianity came into my life when I was 12. It was a wonderful time of pre-critical naivete when my youthful faith gave me stability and answers in a world that was complicated and unsure. Plus, it provided me with a community that gave me identity and purpose.

 

But as I grew, I slowly (very slowly) became aware of the dark side of my faith. The same faith that gave me answers warned me about asking questions that it said I should not ask. And life was teaching me, often through the school of hard knocks, that much is gray, not black and white as my faith said it was. And the community that gave me identity and purpose, I began to see as exclusivistic, as controlling. In short, my childhood faith couldn't grow with me. It wasn't designed to. I needed to find another way to believe. And that has been a long, hard journey for me.

 

Like you, I've let go of some old things, grabbed onto some new things, and have quite a collection of spiritual trinkets in my bag that I'm not sure really fit together. :lol: I sort of feel like the old gypsy peddler who has a thousand and one remedies for ailments, but no true home. :) So I don't know what my label is. I like PC because it reflects my Christian roots but also acknowledges that I am on a journey. And, at least for me, the object is no longer to click my ruby shoes together to get home, but to enjoy the journey along the way. I think you're right about the path also. It would be nice if it were straight and a clearly marking yellow brick road. But mine is filled with rabbit trails and I'll go down them from time to time.

 

Nevertheless, I feel that there is Someone who knows all of this about me, loves me anyway, and smiles because I'm trying. Jesus told his disciples, at one point, "Where I am going, you cannot come." I don't think he was telling them that they weren't going to heaven or that they wouldn't die for their faith. I think he was simply telling them that though there are similarities in spiritual journeys, no two paths are exactly alike. Yes, we can travel together. But no one can take the steps for us.

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Yvonne:

 

Thanks for your post. I took a look at Michael Moorwood's, book (in a review). He reminds me of John Shelby Spong - and seems to be getting the same kind of "pushback" from more traditional folks. In my experience there are many people on the journey you describe. I remember once, while I was waiting for a class in Tai Chi, a fellow I met mentioned that he had explored many paths, but never had found one that would accept a person like him. His point was that so often we explore the beauty of a "path" and become deeply involved. Then we discover all the problems: issues of power, control, and irrational dogma enforcement. So if they find out who we really are, we will be tossed out (so to speak).

 

I suspect the Internet has made it possible for "seekers" to find each other. We are no longer isolated in small towns. Affirmation from other like thinkers is extremely important. If the tradition of Jesus from Nazareth is to survive (a la Spong), it will have to be cleansed of all the thick embellishments that have made it so obtuse for those who are attracted to it.

 

Best wishes on your journey...

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Many paths, one destination, or....

 

When we speak of many paths to God, or what ever we choose to call the 'destination', it is usually in reference to different religious or faith traditions. As has been noted here, it can seem we are first drawn toward one or another of those traditions by the good things, only to encounter in each a dark side, and we find ourself confronting the same dogma, exclusivity, mindgames and human control issues as caused us to leave the one(s) we left behind.

 

What we are missing here is that any and every tradition is a human construct, and is going to be subject to the same universal human weaknesses as any other. No matter the origin of a tradition, often a wise historical mythical individual supposedly poessessed of a special relationship, closeness, and understading of God (or Nirvana or whatever), it isthe generations of ordinary mortal humans that craft a religion or spiritual philosophy as they think expresses the essentials of that wisdom.

 

Even without the influences of baser human qualties such as greed and power mongering, we are talking about ordinary humans trying to articulate very complex and 'lofty' ideas in the only human languages they know.

 

For this, I think different traditions can serve as only the most general and often vague guidline to any seeker....each seeker must find his or her OWN personal path. No one person can travel exactly the same path as any other if only because none of us START at the same place. We come to the seeker's path with our own individuality, our own history and experiences. If you visualize many people standing at various locations around a tall mountain, contemplating how to approach the summit from where they are standing. While any one's path may intersect that of another, or travel in parallel for some brief time, each must find their path according to their personality, experiences, strengths,and weaknesses.

 

Jenell

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billmc wrote "Like you, I've let go of some old things, grabbed onto some new things, and have quite a collection of spiritual trinkets in my bag that I'm not sure really fit together. I sort of feel like the old gypsy peddler who has a thousand and one remedies for ailments, but no true home"

 

These words express almost exactly what I felt like a bit over a decade ago, that I now look back upon as my being at that point somehow "set up" for the most profound, life-changing, mind-changing, heart-changing spiritual crisis of my life. I'm sharing this with you in particular because I have since learned I wasn't unique in what happened to me, and being where you are, to perhaps forewarn in case a similar crisis lies ahead for you, as well.

 

In my case, the "triggering events" were a series of traumatic losses, coming bang bang bang over less than a year...unexpected, sudden traumatic deaths of close loved ones, including a 5wk old grandbaby in an accident, my brother with no warning, my mother, a close friend's son, who was like a nephew to me, comitted suicide...and those are just hitting the high points. My very concept of reality as I knew it, my very sense of identity, who and what I thought I was, all seemed to just shatter, leaving mefeeling stripped bare being sucked down into a dark vortex... I had no point of reference for trying to understand what was happening to me, and no one else around me did either. I knew what I was experiencing sounded like crazy stuff, and quickly realized anyone I tried to tell thought so too. Yet, I knew, KNEW, I wasn't going crazy, that it was some kind of powerful spiritual crisis. thankfully I did eventually find help, people that understood,and were able to support me through the process. I was fortunate...people experiencing such an event have ended up in psychiatric hospitals when there was no understanding and support for them.

 

But as this happened, what you wrote here is so close to just what I found myself, on my knees, sobbing hysterically, to God or whomever or whatever was greater than myself, that I had all those bits and pieces I had collected over the years, many I felt had been spiritually given to me over the years, but all of them were as if pieces of a vast complex puzzle and I didn't have a clue how to begin putting it together to make sense of it. And incredibly, 'something' or 'someone' began helping me sort it all out, and at the end of it all, it's one of those things I would never choose to go through, but for what its effect on me was, I am glad it did. Things are quiet now, and I do not know if the 'work' of it is done, or if there are further crisis, stages of initation, ahead for me or not. I'll just take it as it comes.

There are different terms for that experience, in different paradigms...individuation crisis, spiritual emergency crisis, transformation of the catalillar into the butterfly, positive disintegration/reintegration, and the one we can identify with out out of the heritage of our Christian imagery, the new birth, the spiritual birth, of a new creature. It's an common experience shared by some humans across time and cultures, whatever language in which we describe it, it is the holy grail of the seeker.

 

jenell

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In my case, the "triggering events" were a series of traumatic losses, coming bang bang bang over less than a year......Yet, I knew, KNEW, I wasn't going crazy, that it was some kind of powerful spiritual crisis....But as this happened, what you wrote here is so close to just what I found myself, on my knees, sobbing hysterically, to God or whomever or whatever was greater than myself, that I had all those bits and pieces I had collected over the years, many I felt had been spiritually given to me over the years, but all of them were as if pieces of a vast complex puzzle and I didn't have a clue how to begin putting it together to make sense of it. And incredibly, 'something' or 'someone' began helping me sort it all out, and at the end of it all, it's one of those things I would never choose to go through, but for what its effect on me was, I am glad it did. Things are quiet now, and I do not know if the 'work' of it is done, or if there are further crisis, stages of initation, ahead for me or not. I'll just take it as it comes.

There are different terms for that experience, in different paradigms...individuation crisis, spiritual emergency crisis, transformation of the catalillar into the butterfly, positive disintegration/reintegration, and the one we can identify with out out of the heritage of our Christian imagery, the new birth, the spiritual birth, of a new creature. It's an common experience shared by some humans across time and cultures, whatever language in which we describe it, it is the holy grail of the seeker.

 

jenell

 

 

Jenell,

 

You and I are connected. Your thoughts are SO my thoughts, and our experiences are similar. Thank you for sharing. Your post touched me in ways you can't imagine.

 

Yvonne

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