My Spiritual Guide

The Universe has its gentle and not-so-gentle ways of speaking to me. On occasion, it offers me signs so incredibly loud, I dare not ignore them. Fortunately, I have a spiritual guide, a woman whose feet kiss this earth as an educator. As a third grade teacher, she helped my daughter navigate the global turmoil on the days that unfolded after that crisp September day in 2001. Instead of fear and revenge, she quickly shifted the focus to action – to peace – to understanding. In those moments, often learned through dinner-time conversations with my impressionable third grader, I felt connected to Anne.

Through her gentle spirit, she not only taught Elizabeth how to hold fear and hope simultaneously, but also, without knowing it, Anne modeled for me how to turn inward to understand the chaos of the world. I needed a friend like Anne, and the Universe knew it as well. Because our children went to school together, I work with her husband, and we had mutual friends, our journeys eventually merged. This relationship is what the Universe intended. The relationship has pushed me into new, vulnerable spaces.

Over the last two decades, I have learned to draw on Anne’s observations – her reflections – her musings long after our visits or phone calls have passed. Unintentionally, but out of necessity, my life has called me to focus on my spiritual journey. I have danced through most of life, often pouring myself into others, ignoring my own emotional needs. I lose myself in serving others, mentoring, loving. However, losing my grandmother, my daughter’s diagnosis with a brain tumor, a divorce, have all called me to turn inward, to spend time excavating who I am, to consider a world I cannot control, to examine my purpose in the world. This is where Anne has helped me, like she did my daughter in 2001, understand the importance of leaning into fear and hope at the same time despite the delicate balancing act it requires.

My spiritual journey has led me to understand the sacred is in every moment – every day – every uncomfortable experience – every instance that fills me with great joy. As I untangle my life – my heart – my purpose, I am realizing so much about this journey. The Universe, when I pause long enough to pay attention and to listen, has offered me important lessons. With help, I am learning to stay awake to the moments as they unfold, and because of that, I see the purpose of the journey.

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We Belong Here

“Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act. We belong to the world.” The wisdom of Joanna Macy, a woman who has lived a lifetime of applying her religious scholarship to six decades of activisim, speaks to my heart – to the spiritual connection I feel with the universe. She doesn’t just whisper her message. Instead, she claims it boldly. Active Hope is waking up. It requires an action – a realization – a call. It demands I listen. My ears, my heart, my soul are hungry for her wisdom.

Because of Active Hope, the vocation of teaching chose me. Because of Active Hope, I build deep freindships with others who also often want to change the world or at least seek to be the best versions of themselves. Because of Active Hope, I mentor young adults outside the classroom. Because of Active Hope, I actively participate in my communities at the local, state, and national levels. Because of Active Hope, I have am deeply connected to and incredibly proud of my adult children.

I AM awake to the beauty of life.

At face value, my interactions with others may seem selfless. I am loyal, and I will do anything to ensure another’s safety, sense of self, and growth. I almost always put my needs aside for another’s. Yet, if one listens carefully, I admit the benefits I receive from these relationships. I often respond to gratitude, “It’s a win-win.” Yes, my familial roots urge me to remain humble, and yet, the “win-win” statement captures the balance received from this Active Hope.

As I lose myself in the service, in acting on behalf of others, life really becomes more beautiful – more joyful. Even amidst the most difficult times of life – the ending of a marriage, the cognitive and physical decline of an aging parent, the magnitutde of the cancer my oldest child battles – Active Hope empowers me with a spiritual understanding. It gently unveils a picture so much larger than myself. In that masterpiece, Active Hope offers me joy in the connections I have with humanity, and ultimately the universe. It reminds me that I belong. It reminds me that we belong to one another.

#MakeRoomForJoy

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic