I grew up Catholic. In the North Eastern United States everyone was Catholic. We went to church and listened to sermons in Latin. I don’t remember my communion, but I can still taste the grape juice used in the offering. I thought it was gross. Back then we all drank out of the same cup. The bread tasted like a moldy cracker and I felt submissive as it was placed in my mouth. My mind was young and therefore I did not feel allowed to question what this religion was all about. Even then it seemed to be a complex matrix of rules and regulations regarding a relationship with God. Even as a child I always felt that not only was it my right to know God, but it was, quite possibly, my reason for being here.
As time moved on and life changed church became nothing. At least nothing spiritual. We tithed to the church, prayed for the sick, sang songs and went to CCD. It was a social gathering. Once we left the building, it was over. Like most children I heard a lot of cliché phrases from adults in regard to God. God knows best, hand it over to God, God wouldn’t give you something you couldn’t handle. These same people said ‘God Damn” with each minor mishap in life. The more I listened, the more my mind became full of twisted perceptions and unreasonable ideas. I noticed that many people who got themselves into trouble turned to God to make it better. God began to seem like merely an escape. I started to envision God as a man, sitting high above the clouds in Heaven. Watching and looking and waiting to condemn me.
With the next chapter, I picked up the Bible and began to read. My mind began to take me on a journey into time. It was like a history lesson, filled with eloquent languages and intimate moments of thought and vibration that reflected an era that had long been dead. Jesus stood out the most. He seemed to me to be enlightened, yet persecuted. Loving, yet denied. Aware, but free. It was as if he was living the way God had existed in my mind all along. He was connected, not by blood but by spirit to God himself. His connection was allowed regardless. His passion and clarity frightened people. In his mind he could feel God pulsing through his blood, filling up his mind and soul with the embodiment of awakening and peace. Jesus had the innate ability to allow, to receive and to believe that God was with him always. He had no fear. I remember feeling close to Jesus, feeling as if the way he lived, the way he walked the Earth, was the way we were all supposed to live. When I read in the Bible that he wanted us to become as him, he wanted us to live in his likeness I truly began my spiritual journey. Until that point, I believed that being Godly was the right of only a few.
As I grew up I was always gently reminded of my duty to not disappoint God. My mind was becoming full of guidelines that seemed outlined with fear, all of which were supposed to be for my own greater well being. They seemed restricting and unforgiving and harsh. It was as if religion enabled people, even people I loved and trusted an acceptable avenue with which to instill fear in me. Where was the love in that? Out of fear, assimilation must have taken place in my mind. Even though I felt my own inklings of connectedness to God, the first time I came home drunk, I just knew I was destined to Hell. The guilt, remorse and shame lived in my mind endlessly. Of course, I could be forgiven, but how many times and how many mistakes could I make exactly before Hell became my final destination. And where was Hell, and wasn’t living in this physical world without spirituality some sort of Hell on its own? I had many questions.
I grew up, became an adult along the way and made decisions on my own about my God. I felt that God had to be even more than what I was taught. I felt quite simply I should be able to reach him on my own terms. It often seemed that many of the prayers I heard and said were rooted in selfishness. Help me get the new car! Let the loan go through! Make my kid better! Help my family with money! The list was endless. I began to pray in simplicity. My prayers were mere utterances of thought. My eyes closed, my mind open I began to try and imagine that God was with me as I prayed. In my mind He was there listening and guiding at all times. I remembered a warning in the Bible by Jesus to beware of Wordy prayers, or prayers said from the rooftops. I don’t remember the exact phrase, but tome it was similar to what we did in Church. As religion was boasted it was as if righteousness reigned. The more I practiced, the more my mind was able to accept after all this time that yes, God did exist in me. After all, aren’t we all a part of God? If God is all encompassing then doesn’t that make him as accessible as any of the other energies we summon at will? I was not confused. The mindful creation of the relationship escalated into a feeling of well being and peace. Certainly things still went wrong from time to time; at least I perceived them that way. Among all the chaos, there was order. I found it only when I reached my mind to the quiet place where I allowed God to exist. It was funny, but at some point I realized quite abruptly that all this work to get to God, was only serving to further disconnect me. We come in connected. He was already there. It wasn’t my actions or my behavior or my lacks of any kind that made him far away, it was my perception. The mind had to be emptied, void of preconceived ideas and limiting definitions that many religions interpret as the spirit of God!
When I had children, I imagined that I would leave the immense part of their mind that belonged to God alone. Living in the Southeastern United States at this time I realized that there was huge misconception about families who didn’t go to church. IT was deemed unacceptable and I was judged quite frankly as a sinner. My resistance broke down, probably due to conformity and I awoke one Sunday with the intention of going to Church. My daughter, 5 years old was excited and playful and anticipating great joy and happy singing. She loved her dress and wore pantyhose for the first time. As we sat, welcomed by many and hugged by more it was as if we were being indoctrinated. The preacher made mention of the new family in the back row at the beginning of service and the whole congregation sent us prayers. I felt little. I would have believed that with all that powerful energy coming my way I would have at least had goose bumps. The singing started, then the sermon. Brimstone and Fire! My one daughter, indigo by birth began to cry. She was frightened.
We drove home and I felt somehow that what I had accomplished was simply the onset of filling my children’s minds with all the things that they would need to erase later on to truly find their own relationship with God. We opened the dialogue, and my 5 year old daughter told me that she didn’t need to go to that church. She said she already talked to God all the time. She said God knew her teddy bears, her pony, and her sisters. God knew when she was sad and God knew when she was happy. God she said helped her flowers to bloom. She talked to God about her dad and me, her sisters even. God she told ME, was in her, always. At that point in her life, she had never heard of Hell. She was mindfully aware and expectant of all the good that life brings. She had intentions of love and peace and could imagine herself freely as a mermaid or a horse. It was all real to her. To her, God existed as simply and plainly as the nose on her face. It wasn’t a search or journey to reach God. She simply did. It was astonishing. What would Jesus Do, I thought. I assumed only that the answer was to let it be. Let it be that my children never lose their way to God. Let it be that we pray together under a huge pecan tree that overlooks the stream where we live. Let it be that my children can always find the clarity they need no matter where they are. Let it be that our Church exists in our Home. Let it be that hell cannot penetrate our house. Let it all be so!
Time will obviously expose my children to many different schools of thought. I just hope that given the opportunity to feel their connection with God, my kids will always know that he is with them. They will always remember that to reach God, they just need to use their mind power. If they can feel the easiness of the relationship now, than quite possibly they will always be able to find their way back. For me, God stays in my mind through every moment of every day. As he guides me through mindful delivery of thought, I become confidently aware of the deliberate art of allowing. As long as God is allowed, he is present. And even when we are not mindfully allowing him inside, he is there waiting to join us again. The key to God is definitely our mind! This what Jesus knew and what he was trying to tell us so long ago.
Stef Daniel 2008