It was years since I had last visited the church of my childhood. There I was sitting in the last row uncomfortably on a wooden pew on a cold Thanksgiving day morning. My goal had been to pick up my brother after the service for dinner, but I arrived too early, and so I walked in. As goals sometimes go, my brother was not there. Snowflakes had clung to my coat anticipating an early exit by me. I spent moments staring at a single snowflake on my coat. As before, my attention span too easily wandered during church services. The church was expensively renovated overlooking a neighborhood crumbling from the weight of poverty. I shifted in my pew uncomfortable with this notion. Looking up at the ceiling of pictorial adornments the artistry was admittedly beautiful. From shimmering candlelight and stained glass windows sprung sentimental memories but also remindful reasons for my journey out of organized religion to the solitary path of spiritual discovery. My path had taken me into studies of psychology, world religions, ancient earth and native spiritualities and to energy healing practices, which is where I found my center. Intrigued by these surroundings, and knowing well that random events are never random, but instead usually pay-attention moments, I waited to discover why I was really here. I looked at the people who crowded the front pews. I sensed the spiritual humility of several devotees while others would look back at me quizzically is if I were an impostor.
Gazing up at the concave ceilings with a wide-eyed delight I began to see the grandeur art from a different perspective. Did the rows of people standing behind clouds exist on the “other side”? Could the flames of light above the pious be portrayals of active crown chakras? Could the light emanating from outreaching palms be energy points emitting healing? Perhaps halos were early interpretations of glowing auras. Are our underlying beliefs really that different, or, is it our egos that separate us to define reason for existence serving to justify that rationale at whatever cost. Separation creates opposing “god” teams, certain reasoning for many wars. Do we really need these teams? Can the spiritual connectedness I feel during reiki be the same experience as the eighty-year old woman kneeling in the front pew, her arthritic hands clutching her rosary beads? Are we essentially the same but clutching different definitions? Perhaps our diversity helped us to connect to spirit by creating rituals that express our heritage and community. But instead of rejoicing in diversity, we build walls and cast judging eyes upon impostors.
What if it was more important not that we pray to a particular god, but that we do pray; not that we heal by faith healing, reiki, western or eastern medicine, but that we do heal; and not that we love from duty, reaction or reciprocity, but that we do love. Imagine people gathering to easily share diverse methods to pray, heal, love and thus connect to spirit. Imagine each of us sharing traditions sans judgment, received with appreciation.
The doors to the church momentarily blew open. A blast of cold air pushed forth doubts discouraging my hopes to see this idyllic time occur. Those doubts soon faded as this ideal that warmed my soul was much more magnificent to me than any artwork.
I wondered if my favorite childhood room remained unchanged during the renovation. Discreetly, I walked back to a secluded enclosure. A beautiful statue of Mary stood untouched. Roses cascaded down layers of blue and white veils as she emerged from the side of a mountain cave. Small red novena candles flickered casting shadows hinting at the common symbolic meaning that was sadly divided by dogmatic fear. Years ago, I spent much time in meditation here, inspiring me to later study goddess spirituality, itself left standing in dark corners, ignored by many religions.
As the service concluded, I realized my brother must have grown hungry waiting for my arrival. Relieved to be back outside in my own church, the natural world, my coat instantly became dotted with snowflakes. I tried again to observe a single snowflake but gusts of wind blew the snow into rising swirls. We are perhaps like snowflakes. Each snowflake is unique. It is our journey to permit the wind, our minds, to propel us upward to seek. The diversity of each snowflake balances our connectedness. We are snowflakes who dance in the wind seeking the snow. We journey far, returning to our beginning, to realize that the snow, divine spirit, is present everywhere.
If our journey teaches us tolerance then our own snowflake dance can truly become a joyous symphonic celebration of our shared spiritual diversity.
Mary Ann Reiger, Spiritual Reiki Healer and
Intuitive Counselor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Published in Journey Magazine January-