Religion, Spirituality and Personal Confusion

By then, in early 2000’s,  when I looked at all the years I had spent in my new country and all the events  and I realized that what I thought in 1981 was the “most dramatic” part of my life, I had to admit I was wrong. The  memory of the intern from the publishing house who rejected the first attempt to a memoir on grounds that “so many bad things cannot happen to one person,” seemed humorous, or plain ridiculous. In many ways, I was glad the memoir wasn’t published because it was only one life, when in reality I had the opportunity to experience two lives, equaly filled with events which for many were from the world of fantesy.

This is a rather long justification as to why my relationship with God, the Higher Power, the something we all seek to give meaning to our life, has been rocky at times.

Many questionnairs asked along the years my religion and for a while I wrote: Presbyterian, but lately, I decided to state the truth: Confused!

Unlike most of my friends who grew up in either a Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant Church, I grew up in an atheistic home where the disbelief in God was so powerful, my mother came out of a coma to re-state her believe that there was no God. Her reasoning was very simple, if there were one how come there was so much suffering in the world, how come she, my mother had the life she did?

At the time, I didn’t know, neither did I care about the differences between the various churches, how was the Catholic Church different from the Protestant Churches for instance. Fate had it that kevin’s family was Presbyterian, therefore protestant, and it was when we married that I learned the basic differences between Catholicism and the Protestants. I certainly liked the concept that we have a direct connection to God, that we didn’t need a Priest to confess our sins and that we were saved by Faith alone, not by our deeds.  This is a very incomplete, basic explanation why I became Presbyterian and for many years very active in the church. I was an Elder, and when the church I belonged to searched for a new Minister, I was the Secretary of the team in charge of looking for our new Minister. Hours of work, meetings every week for almost a year and we finally presented to our Congregation what we believed was the right person to lead us.  He was a man of God, who knew the Scriptures, who was married and had two daughters, both with special needs.  After about a year, slowly, I started to doubt my judgement that he was the right person to lead our church and my suspicions became reality when it became public knowledge that he was divorcing his wife to marry another Presbyerian Minister, a woman who in turn was deserting her children and husband to marry him, our leader, the one we trusted to lead us in worship. To make the situation more dramatic, the wife he was divorcing had breast cancer, which reminded me of my own mother’s sufferings.

How did I feel about this? Betrayed, with poor judgement, since I was part of the team who recommended him to become our Minister. I felt that the church was the business of God, but it could have been any business. I felt that there were professions which required a vocation, such as being a doctor or a minister or a psychologist. Professions in which one was entrusted to guide others’s lives and how could I trust someone who betrayed his own family to “guide my moral behavior?”

I stopped going to church, because in my mind the church was the business of God, not the soul of God and it was the soul that I was seeking, and my steps were guided towards spirituality. I didn’t need to go to a church Sunday mornings and sing hymns and put a check on a plate to have a relationship with God. Instead, I could serve food at a homeless shelter, organize support groups for the needy and generally live a morally “clean” life.

I could walk the trails of Green Valley and watch the foaming cascades and listen to the songs of the birds and be thankful for the beauty of nature and still feel God in my life.

In my desperate searches for the right path to the Source, Truth, God, I signed up for a workshop entitled “The Flower of Life.”  Several of my friends particpated , all seekers of a spiritual path.

There were about ten participants and the core of the workshop, which was led by a trained facilitator, was to teach us how to master the “Merkaba Meditation.” Mer originates in 18th century Egypt and refers to light, more precisely two counter rotating fields, which are activated when the person was performing certain breathing patterns. Ka meant the spirit of the person  and Ba was the interpretation of reality … or something to that effect

While I do not recall the specifics and the steps of learning the ” Merkaba meditation, I do remember that there were 17-breath types which along with certainmudras (hand positions) were to bring happiness and peace of mind to those who learned how to perform these rituals correctly.

But that was not all, the student needed to understand the correct geometric structures around our own bodies… and to make a long story shorter, as the workshop progressed I was getting more and more alarmed.  In the second day, one of our friends, had a dream and bailed out leaving a famous tai chi teacher from New York, and myself to continue on the road to self-discovery. The tai Chi teacher, a thin, pale woman wearing a white turban which accentuated her paleness became alarmed, as I did, when the workshop required an experiential exercise.

In this exercise, the participants took turns lying down while the other participants were touching her body chanting the sound of the universe, “Om,” which is an emptying sound. After a while, the chanting chang

changed to Aleluia, which was a sound of “receiving a new spirit,” or at least this was my understanding of what was happening.

My turn came, and as I laid on my back, every fiber in my body felt stiff and opposing the “empting process”

My thoughts were racing, trying to figure out if my “soul” was about to be stolen when suddenly, my friend’s dog jumped on my chest and started to bark and growl! Yes! Always trust the instincts of animals and children. They have the innocence and senses we, living lives of sophistication, had lost!

The “ritual” was over and we sat all in a circle and the Facilitator asked each of us what did we experience during the exercise when we were the subjects. My turn was coming and as the facilitator invited me to speak, a voice came from within me, but it wasn’t mine, and I heard it say:” I felt that Jesus Christ will always protect me, no matter what!”  The voice stopped, I felt light and peaceful. The workshop ended and the Tai Chi teacher and I, now feeling close because of our joint experiences, told the friend who bailed out because of the dream that we weren’t comfortable, would he know someone, a healer perhaps, someone to “purify” our souls, to assure us that we were okay.

He took us to a friend of his, a young Asian man who, we were assured had a lot of wisdom and might be able to help us.

We sat down and told him the story: This happened, and that happened, and this ritual and that ritual, and the 17 patterns of breathing and the geometrical shapes… I was speaking, she was adding more to my story, we were frantically trying to convey the story and the more we spoke the more we knew the young man didn’t get it!

After about half an hour of continuous explanations, the tai we told him the bottom line was that we were concerned about our souls. Frankly, I knew I had mine because of the dog who jumped on me during the ritual and with her bark scared away any possible soul thieves.

“What  do you think? Can you help us?” the tai chi teacher asked.

The young man looked concerned. He was clearly in deep thought. He looked at us and we looked at him for something which seemed an eternity and he spoke at last:

“Always take the streight path! Winding path, no good!

That being said, he stood up and gently showed us to the door…

… and that is how I am still confused…

There are times when I love God, what I imagine as God, and it is not an old man with a grey beard, and there are times when I am angry because I do not understand why so many hardships had been given to us, and I ask the Power to please consider stopping giving us so many trials, as we have learned the lessons, thank you!

However, whichever feelings I have, it’s a good thing because it means  MY God and I have a relationship, and no relationship is perfect, but at least ours is real!

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