Breathless Beginning

On this delicious rainy October day I prepare to settle into the darker, colder time of year when my mind finds the greatest freedom. There is so much less pressure from the tyrannical sun; body and soul have been granted sweetest reprieve and are permitted to retreat within.

There, it only took two sentences before I had to say it: soul. That term/concept/universe is one of the many with which I have recently begun experimenting and exploring. Other such vocabulary words that need to be examined, stripped down, unlearned, dragged through a Merriam-Webster-style examination, and critically and lovingly recast and transformed:

Goddess. God. Divine. Prayer. Meditation. Reverence. Spirituality. Sacred. Saint. Guru. Mystic. Blessing. Belief.

That list will most certainly grow and it may take a few dozen lifetimes to even begin to appreciate even the vaguest truths of such ideas. But perhaps this new medium will be a start.

In the last six months or so I have embarked upon a new journey that has shaken the core of a young woman who thought she was a well enough established dissident. Certainly she was (and so remains) a hypocrite who weeps at the fate of the polar bears even as she find carpooling to work with her husband too inconvenient; who occasionally declares in hushed tones her desire to be a minister and dedicate her life to serving others an hour after she gripes about the ridiculous needs of infantile colleagues; and who has generally lived out the American capitalist dream, albeit tinged with hearty doses of guilt. She prided herself on moving beyond the radar of the typical even as she remained firmly rooted in the world.

Back in high school I would sit through mass and then whine that I was blessed with the “spirituality of a rock.” I wasn’t celebrating my sense of stability; I was talking about feeling utterly unmoved by hymn and host and homily. With a handful of kindred spirits at a Catholic university, I threw off the mantle of childhood religion and gleefully announced my witchiness. We amazed potential suitors with our flowing dresses and wine soaked sacred circles and we scared more than a few professors into giving our pagan-flavored term papers great grades. In the years following college through all of the depression that seems to accompany one’s first steps into contemporary reality, I noncommittally called myself “spiritual” – talking to the moon and speaking to the Goddess on behalf of the losers in the cruel game of automobile versus squirrel.

Then, this past April I attended a conference and met Rumi and Teresa of Avila and Ramakrishna and the Buddha all on the same day. Risking all related cliche, I will say that the sky opened and hints of a universal spirit have since infused a new sense of wonder and a desperate need to find purpose. An aspiring writer trapped in a day job who continues to court countless existential dilemmas, I declare myself The Girl Who Cried Epiphany in order to start a conversation about the words listed above and to start untangling the mystery of what I am supposed to be doing here anyway. At this point, the fact that anyone might read this is more than a bit terrifying, but I have to feed the savage beast within that seems to yearn for an audience and if it gets me writing every day that is more than enough reason, right?

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