We each grow uniquely, like individual flowers in a meadow of blossoming flowers. We're connected, yet different. We have similar needs and unique needs. We view things through our own "learning" lenses. We relate to people, places, God/dess in the way WE NEED so we can move closer to the fulfillment of potentials.
Tonight I am inspired to write this as I've had such a colorful, roller-coaster ride with organized religions and spiritual traditions throughout my life. I have come to a place where I LOVE my relationship with the Divine and feel so grateful everyday for the intimacy I experience with this presence, that is everywhere.
I also respect everyone else's experience of and with The Divine or the manifestation of spiritual presence, or atheism.
I am grateful that I feel no need to preach these days. I can accept people's choices and honor that it has meaning to them, that I don't necessarily have to "get" or agree with. And I LOVE feeling that acceptance from others towards my relationship with the Divine.
I understand from my life experiences and witnessing cultures around the world, that people move towards lessons they need to learn to become more awake, whole and joyful. Sometimes those lessons look hard, intense, rigid, or dogmatic. But... that doesn't mean their wrong for the people choosing them. Every person is free to live life on their own terms.
When I was in 6th grade I wanted to become a Catholic Priest... but... I wasn't Catholic and I was a girl... so... I didn't realize that what I was really longing for was validation and witnessing of how powerful my love of God was.
There were moments along my journey when I was jealous of people who went off to India to meditate in Ashrams and Monasteries in Nepal. I thought they were way more committed and spiritual than I was. Over and over again, I tried to be loyal to just one belief system but it was so unnatural for me, that I never stayed long in any one tradition.
There was a time when I felt shame for having only Sun Danced for 1 year, when the tradition I was in told me I should have committed to 4... Now I understand that shame was more divisive and toxic than not dancing 4 years in a row... And indeed, given how my life unfolded, only dancing one year was a great choice for me! The year (1998), I would have returned to dance a 2nd year, my Medicine Man teacher molested me in my own home, during a ceremony! White Buffalo Calf Woman came to me in the midst of my trauma and heart break and reminded me that no one could take away my innocence or power. And I was invited to re-create my life from a wholly feminine design. That's literally the first time I saw how deeply I was judging my existence by the rules of the capitalist patriarchy.
Over a decade later, I tried it again. I tried to choose just one "religion"/ lineage to grow old in. I found the Ifa-Orisha religion.
When I left my Orisha community in 2012, I felt that once again... I was lost... a Priest without healthy elders, on her own... no one to guide me. Yet I'd just turned 40 and I'd just met my true love, and we'd just moved into a beautiful home on an acre of land.... Buying into the illusion of "failure" was more harmful than not having elders to guide me. My stress over being an outcast was distracting me away from the incredible life I'd created with my new love.
Everything shifted when I realized Orisha came into my life for a reason - to bring me home to myself. Not for me to get lost in drama infused dogma. Since then I have joyfully forged my beautiful and I'm sure unique relationship to my Orisha, and an understanding that my path is about freedom, individuality and authentic connection.
It was an amazing day when I let go of the idea that I HAD to be embedded in a religion to do my relationship with the Divine RIGHT. The Divine showed me over and over again, that my love was enough. And every personification of The Divine was blessed. I could relate through deities, through Jesus, or through science or metaphysics or animal and crystal spirits - It didn't matter - IT'S ALL SOURCE.
After all these years of growing and transforming, I've come to a place in myself that I absolutely love. I deeply honor and give thanks for all the traditions that have influenced and molded me. I understand that I needed to experience each one just the way I did, through my unique lens, formed from my unique life experiences, so I could move closer to my destiny.
My destiny is to be an integrated whole, not dependent on any one form of the Divine, yet devoted to my authentic relationship with The Divine. While also in respect and reverence for the truth in all religions and spiritual paths.
I feel no need to belong to any one tradition, because I feel I've found my true home, in the Universe within me - my infinite nature. I call my God - "Presence Is" or "Everything is Consciousness" or "The Great Dreamer" and I feel this active presence everywhere and in everything. I am a co-dreamer with the Great Dreamer. It is my life purpose to dream BEAUTY, HARMONY, LOVING KINDNESS, AND PEACE. This is my experience.
And I honor yours.
:: Written by Maria Christina Owl ::
Maria Owl Gutierrez