The Wholistic Picture
Taking It on Faith
God is Good, but Beware Earthly Condemnation
Spirituality is a hot topic these days. It is frequently equated with religious beliefs or upbringing and it's that equation that I question.
I have frequently been touched and inspired by clients who tell me that being diagnosed HIV-positive led them to a faith they had never experienced before. Many credit God, Jesus or Allah with their continued survival and fervently extol the values of pursuing a deeper spiritual connection as a means of self-support at least, if not healing.
And then there's the other side of the coin -- clients who have been damaged, in some cases irrevocably, by those who use religion, or their position as authority figures within their religion, to abuse, betray and violate. Unfortunately, my experience has led me to more of the latter than the former.
All we have to do is look at a paper or watch the news to see the damage that religious fundamentalism causes. Right now Islam is taking the hit, but the Christians should take their part of the blame too. In the course of human history countless countries have been invaded, cultures destroyed, people tortured and killed with as much arrogance and terroristic fervor as Al Qaida had on September 11.
Today, war and violence go on in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East for many reasons, not the least of which, I believe, is the foundational inability of George Bush and his so-called "moral majority" to understand and respect the faith and customs of Islam, to acknowledge that these are ancient civilizations and religions that existed for centuries before the U.S. was even a concept.
But don't get me started, don't even get me started.
My point is that I believe the spiritual connection can be a profound healing force, one that benefits not just the individual, but also the Whole as well.
When I work energetically with people who are truly seeking a deeper connection to their spiritual Source and who are willing to question what they think they know, to explore other belief systems, to pay attention to what they know feels right and what doesn't, I invariably see their energy open up, remain balanced more consistently, the quality of their lives improve and, even if they suffer a health crisis, they have resources that come from trust and faith that allow them to deal with it in whatever way is right for them.
Back in the 90s when it was much more likely that I'd be visiting a client in the hospital, I had the experience of being present when a woman I'd worked with for over a year was making her transition. She had worked hard and achieved great progress in healing the wounds that had caused her to shut down emotionally and spiritually and turn to drugs. Even though her devoutly Catholic father and brother had sexually abused her and the family had rejected her when they found out she was a drug addict and infected with HIV, they had descended upon her hospital room, clutching rosaries and intoning prayers, asking God to forgive her and not condemn her to Hell.
She floated in and out of consciousness, but at one point reached for my hand. Perhaps she felt my anger at their hypocrisy. Perhaps the waves of incredulity and indignation were rolling tangibly out of my center -- how dare they think she was the one who needed to be forgiven!
When our eyes met, she smiled and I could feel this beautiful wave of peace coming from her. The noise of the family and the beeping machines and the humming fluorescents fell away and I knew she was leaving with no fear of condemnation, no sorrow for a life of "sin," no doubt that her angels were waiting to embrace her in unconditional love and acceptance. She sighed heavily and barely whispered, "It's all right ... it's beautiful ..." and then she was gone.
Whatever dogma filled that room, whatever theological justification her family had to treat her the way they did when she was alive, she was free of it, arriving at the Truth that none of us really know until we get there. The tears I cried on the way home were not in mourning, but in gladness that she was finally, in the words of my faith, in the arms of the Mother.
I also had no doubt that the Christ she used to talk about, the Christ that was so different from the one her family believed in, was, for her, the one who would welcome her to that higher plane. It was ultimately unimportant -- she and I both knew what was True for each of us. Had she not found that very personal, uniquely individual connection, I doubt that her life or her death would've been as positive as it was.
So I guess my point is that I believe it's less important Who or What you believe in, what Their names are, what the rituals are, where you go to celebrate them, than it is that you give yourself a chance not just to believe, but to know, even if the knowledge is just that you, like all of us, carry the Divine within.
When people ask me what religion I am, I answer proudly, "I'm a Sueist." They don't need to know the details because it belongs to me as I belong to it and I'm not about to make the horrific mistake of insisting that my way is the only right way. There are as many faces of God and Goddess as there are people to imagine them -- find the One who smiles at you, look in the mirror of that Divine reflection and smile back.
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