Like a lot of children, I had many experiences of the presence of God—when the priest held up the host and the world dissolved into warm golden loving light; when the Rabbi’s wife, our neighbor, lit the candles and said the prayers and all time stopped, blessed; lying in grass and my body became first the earth, then the stars and cosmos, and then touched the face of the Creator. But by the time I was 12, what I knew and what I was being taught were so opposed that I left Christianity—and Christ-- to preserve my relationship with Spirit.
During my teens and early 20’s, my connection with the numinous was maintained by the arts. That led me into the profound spiritual revolution happening during the 70’s. I was a joy-filled explorer—I learned about other religions, states of consciousness, meditation archetypal psychology and the synchronicities of divination practices. My primary practice became shamanic, and I have studied with one Native American teacher for many years. The only blip in our relationship was when she told me, early on, that I was on the ‘Red Jesus Road’. Red…fine. But Jesus? What was that about?
In 1996, doing a visualization to meet my Higher Self—I met Jesus. I was scared and enraged. I told him to leave-but he wouldn’t. I was so distraught that I did some counseling around it. In 2000, while doing a shamanic journey, he showed up again—When I asked him ‘What the *#!x are you doing here?’ he smiled and said ‘Wherever you go, there I am’. When I brought this to spiritual direction, instead of raging as I thought I would, I felt myself held in the Sacred Heart—and began to weep, not understanding what was happening to me.
Over the next years I had experiences in which my stereotypes and prejudices shattered. I met Catholic lefty social activists. I met Joanna—an evangelical for heaven’s sake!. We would sit in prayer and tears in a restaurant at our monthly lunches and feel a Jesus who was inviting me to remember who I used to know him to be- asking me to follow Him into Love.
Each experience broke open the door I slammed shut just a little bit more. Although I am still wary of the word ‘Christian’—so much baggage—I do know myself now as a follower of Christ. My friends—many of whom practice different religions, or are spiritual eclectics (not to mention my husband who is an atheist)- were greatly relieved that my consenting to Christ did not turn me into a self-righteous jerk. Somehow following Christ has only expanded my capacity for love and respect, to my community’s great surprise and relief.
Now I work at The Journey Center offering spiritual direction to folks from many different spiritual paths—Christians, Buddhists, spiritual eclectics primarily. And as I sit in the presence of the Holy, I am continually in awe at the many ways in which the sacred is revealed in people’s life. It is my privilege to support those people in their own precious journey, following the way that Spirit uniquely calls to them.
A short while ago, a friend was describing her experience of the Holy Spirit moving in Post-Vatican II Catholicism. Later, I noticed this great sadness—and the question, “Why couldn’t I have waited, held on?” Just a couple more years- I could have stayed. Heck, knowing me I’d probably be a Benedictine nun:>) But then I heard this voice- “I needed you to leave. You did it for Me”. And I could only weep, because now at the Center I can connect with so many different people that I would never have been aware of if I had stayed in my childhood community, and wisdom that would never have been integrated into my walk with God if I had not gone into some unusual places. And so I give thanks for this very big and sacred-hearted Jesus that blesses all those who are hungry to know the Holy. May my life serve Love in His name.
Ruah is a spiritual director who specializes in working with helping professionals, people on non-traditional spiritual paths, and those who are entering the contemplative journey. She has a private practice in Petaluma,CA and works in a variety of medical settings. Ruah's passion is to bring people from different traditions and practices together to share and explore God's call to community, conversation and contemplation.