Awakening the Spirit: Part One

“The Goal of the Hero(ine)’s Journey is yourself, finding yourself.” - Joseph Campbell

The Heroine's Journey

I think the Heroine’s Journey is a spiritual journey at its core. We uncover more and more of our true selves as we answer the calls that just keep coming - responding to each one by entering into the “unknown” and going on adventure after adventure.

The Heroine wants to understand who she is. She’s willing to go within, which is the most courageous journey of them all. She doesn’t just go with the presenting persona: I’m a wife, a mother, a teacher, a doctor, a sister, a daughter…but asks, who am I underneath all that?

It’s easy to define yourself on the surface, but who are you really? We’re told that there’s only one of us, with our particular talents and abilities in all of time and if we don’t become who we are, then it’s lost for all time. I believe that.

You Are A Heroine

So, who are you?

Heroine - a woman who dares to stretch herself out of her comfort zone time and time again, in answer to a call, in order to fully actualize herself - to fully birth herself into being.

I invite you to think through my question and see what comes up. In this blog and the next, I’ll share some of my own Heroine’s spiritual journey stories. It’s something I’ve held back from talking about during most of my professional career as a consultant and mediator. Why talk about it now? Well, I’m on that journey, too - to uncover more and more of my true self - to be my authentic self.

And anyone who knows me would tell you, I’ve been consciously walking a spiritual path for a long time. So without regard to the Threshold Guardians who still now whisper to me, “What will they think?” Here’s Part 1 to my story.

Waking Up

I have a plaque that my mother-in-law gave to me that hangs under the fireplace mantle in my office and reads “Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.”

Are you remembering your Latin from High School? Right, you say, no one takes Latin anymore, Susanna!

“Bidden or Unbidden God is Present.” Is the English translation.

I had never heard it before. (I’m grateful for the gift and it’s funny that I’m sure if my mother-in-law were still with us she’d tell you she didn’t have a spiritual bone in her body!) Carl Jung, the psychologist had this carved over the front door of his house in Zurich. I keep those words up, too. I need the reminder.

I agree! I do believe that Spirit, God, Source, The Universe (whatever you want to call her or him or it - I’ll be using them all interchangeably) is always present. Sometimes we talk about how to awaken the Spirit but Spirit is always awake (bidden or unbidden). The task is more about how do we wake up so we can hear and feel the Spirit?

Working On My Own Spirituality 

The more I work on my own spirit and spirituality, the more I realize there’s nothing to work on. It’s there, waiting, just waiting for me to tune in. But, I’m too busy. I’m running. I’m doing “important” things. (Insert eyeball emoji, here!)

Maybe you’ve seen the movie, The Matrix, and its sequels. They present a future view of a civilization that in reality is asleep, in pods. They are actually dreaming and what they think is their real world is actually a computer program. In truth, they are all sleeping. No, I don’t believe we’re all really in pods, - but we too are asleep to Spirit most of the time. (I’m using the royal “we” here. It’s my experience but I know it’s shared.)

We work at making everything happen ourselves and when things don’t work out we sometimes blame the Universe, - but we rarely remember prior to taking on some task or project or goal to ask for help or even to acknowledge that there is spiritual help available. It’s like being in a dark room and not thinking to turn on the switch.

Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote about riding on the subway and reaching up to hold on to the strap is like connecting to the support system of God. He asks, why would you stand there pitching and almost falling when you can hang on to that strap and get all kinds of help? I like thinking of it as "plugging in.” When I live my life plugged into a larger spiritual power, everything goes so much better - actually, miracles happen. But I frequently forget.

We hear a lot that people don’t turn to God until there’s a tragedy or they’re in trouble. I guess I fall into that category. I was a believer as a child. I remember speaking frequently to God, almost as though God was a pretend friend, always with me. I feel like I was "plugged in” then. But then God became equated with "going to church.” I went to church every Sunday and it was meaningful to me, a positive experience, but as I grew older it became more of an intellectual exercise and yes, a social one.

There was no experience of God, no turning to God for regular communion in my life - just on Sundays. I went through the motions and then basically stopped when I went to college and then didn’t start up “churchgoing” until my children were born. But then I went because of them - because I wanted them to have a church background so that culturally they’d know what the whole church thing was about.

What changed? 

It was a divorce that shook me to the core and got me reaching out to God for real. It was the scariest thing I had ever done to confront my husband and say the marriage wasn’t working and to take my children and leave. I leaned heavily on God then, - my mantra was the 23rd Psalm - “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

I was 35 and when I look back I see this as the beginning of my "waking up.” I have also described it as the time when I finally took the bag off of my head and began to see. I “saw" that I had been so busy accommodating others and hoping to change others that I hadn’t paid attention to me and my soul - and what I needed to be doing to feed that soul.

When I took this huge step to save myself (or rather, to take myself back) and my children it was as though my soul, my inner self, my inner child - whatever you want to call it - got stronger and began to move. It was as though this inner part of me said - "Wow! She’s waking up - she’s paying attention - finally! Let’s go! And my spiritual journey really took off.

You need to know that I believe our inner voice, our intuition is God within. It’s the “still, small voice.” How to explain “God”, the mystery, the inexplicable? I like the description of God as "something greater” and I think we’re all a piece of that something greater - like we’re all waves in a greater ocean.

Where My Journey Lead Me

Where did my spiritual journey lead me after experiencing that time of being in the Belly of the Whale as we call those soul-shattering moments of our lives in journey terminology?

I continued to go to church, - a Congregational one this time, but I was still going for the wrong reasons, - so my kids would go, because my parents went and they wanted me to go, - it was a loving community, - I had friends there. God? I looked to meet and experience God elsewhere.

I went to retreats on meditation - those that helped one have direct experiences with Spirit; I walked on fire; I belonged to a spiritual group (people of all faiths or no faiths who were on a spiritual path).

I read books about all kinds of spirituality: Zen, Buddhism, Wicca, Christian. I read channeled books by non-embodied entities like Emmanuel and Agartha and Abraham.

The spiritual path for me has always been about wanting to genuinely connect with God, in my heart, - not intellectually - but feeling the presence of God. And this has happened - at odd moments: riding in my car, in nature, at a retreat, walking my dog, in a boat, waiting for my daughter in the store, listening to the women who I meet through my women’s empowerment business describe how their lives are changing and in all of this I do feel God. I feel a connection.

Then, this happened.

I was a passenger on a long car trip, traveling back to Maine from Boston, with a friend. We had talked the entire time about our beliefs in the nature of God. It had been very uplifting for me,- my friend is a real believer. I dropped him off in Portland where he had left his car and continued on alone to drive the hour to Woolwich with all that spirit-filled conversation roiling around inside of me.

And somewhere along the dark, northbound lane of I-95 I had what I can only describe as an ecstatic moment. I felt pure, pure joy and had the feeling of being utterly cared for. The message I got clearly was that there was absolutely nothing to worry about - that all was good, all was well. I felt light and released from a great burden. It must have lasted just a few minutes but it was an invaluable gift.

I believe that must be how enlightened beings must feel all the time. It truly is bliss. I was able to recapture the feeling, remember it for a while, but never at the same intensity. I would do anything to experience it again. Rest assured, God knows this. And, of course, I keep working on waking up.

Awakening The Spirit Conclusion

I hope you’ll stick with me, dear Heroines, and continue to Awakening the Spirit, Part 2, in a few weeks. I invite your comments, as always!