My Spiritual Journey
When I think of the term "spiritual
journey," I think of a trip to Nepal, or of contemplating
the navel. I've done neither of those -- if I had the money
to travel, I don't think Nepal would make the top 10; and
my navel, frankly, isn't that interesting.
Looking back, I can see that my life
has been a spiritual journey nonetheless; even those dark
times in my life. I don't mean the unexpected tragedies that
we all experience, but the choices I made of my own free will
to go down a more interesting -and more dangerous -- path.
Maybe it was those times in particular when I learned the
most. When someone close to us dies, or our house burns down,
or we're robbed, or raped, many of us turn to God for comfort
and reassurance. We can come to Him with anger, or with humility,
or with questions; but we come to Him in innocence. Certainly
I have had these times also, and I have found comfort.
But I think I found the greater prize
when I came to Him (maybe it was He coming to me so often
that I could no longer ignore Him) as the prodigal son, sure
I could never wash the dirt off of me and that I was beyond
redemption. I'd never cared for that parable; perhaps because
it wasn't until this moment that I realize I have been he.
"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."
Once upon a time I saw the Wagner opera
"Tannheuser" at a world-class opera house complete
with supertitles so the audience could follow the story. It
was a version with the original score intact but with sets
updated to reflect a more modern interpretation, complete
with Crystal Cathedral and a soprano going topless in the
final act. Yes, I wanted to see what everyone was talking
about, but what I found had nothing to do with bare breasts,
and it symbolizes for me my spiritual journey.
Early in the opera, the title character,
Tannheuser, is laying around the sleazy motel with Venus while
she feeds him peeled grapes, nubile young nymphs cavorting
in the background, and it is apparent he has been there for
quite some time. Nice life, eh? But wait! What's that he hears?
A church bell! Corny, huh? How many times had I been irked
by those early-morning church bells as I came home from a
night of severe partying!
Yes, corny -- until he begins to sing,
and thank God (there He is again) for those supertitles so
I could know what he was singing about. He tells Venus how
wonderful she is and how wonderful his time with her has been
-- "Here I breathe the magic of all joys, no country
in the wide earth offers such bliss." But . . . Of course
there has to be a "but."
But "here I languish amidst the
scent of rare incense, the rustle of silken linens, longing
for the clear air of the forest, and the blue flower."
I'm paraphrasing a bit here; my libretto doesn't exactly mention
a "blue flower" but I remember it as clear as day
from my seat in the 27th row or whatever it was.
The blue flower.
How I longed for it! Hearing the church
bells and knowing that such a life was forever forbidden to
me, because I had turned my back on it in search of those
silken linens, that rare incense. It seemed I had made my
choices in life, and they were bad ones. I had spurned the
blue flower, the clear air of the forest, the church bells.
It was too late. It is very, very quiet in opera houses -
unbelievable, really, and quite amazing - and I sat there
trying not to sniffle and make a spectacle of myself as the
tears ran down my face.
That was not my spiritual awakening,
but it was a turning point for me.
When I say I had made my wrong choices
knowingly and deliberately, I mean that I had started my adult
spiritual journey at 17 with mystical metaphysics classes
in 1972. My mother was so worried that I was getting involved
with a cult that she -- wise woman that she was! -- didn't
forbid me; no, she said she wanted to come, too. And she did.
She sat with me and my friends thru 30 weeks of listening
to the hum of the universe, learning about the evils of white
flour and sugar, becoming exposed to the mysteries of the
pyramids and the inner earth and the life in outer space,
and our already strong bond was strengthened. She continued
her exploration. But I took a different fork in the road,
a more exciting fork. (Reminds me of what is supposedly an
ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times.")
I never forgot what I had begun with my metaphysical studies,
but I repressed it and joined the fast lane, even before it
was called "the fast lane."
The pain and angst I felt listening to
Tannheuser lament his lost love -- the love of God -- are
something I don't ever care to experience again. But I'm not
sorry I experienced it. I believe that I would not have learned
as much or grown as much had I stayed on the "straight
and narrow," following society's dictums and living my
life from behind a white picket fence. To an outsider it would
look like I had done some very stupid things, had really screwed
But I learned a lot about spirituality
from that side journey I took. They say there can be no light
without dark, no noise without silence; I have seen a darker
side of life, and felt its emptiness; heard the church bells
and known I was an outsider, forever barred. This gives me
a perspective on the light that I didn't have before my trip.
At one of my lowest points, after having been told I was sterile
and unable to have children, I found I was pregnant and alone
and unemployed and evicted. Swell! Another burden, another
sign that God had abandoned me! How wrong I was. It's now
clear that God gave me that child as a light on the path,
so I could find my way home.
When I finally turned up on my mother's
doorstep, pregnant and unwed, after touring that dark side
(you can't exactly tour the dark side and have a close relationship
with your mom, after all), she didn't ask a lot of questions;
she accepted me back, warts and all. I learned that her journey
had led her to, among other things, the works of Edgar Cayce,
known as "The Sleeping Prophet". We would discuss
theories and talk about so-called "occult" and metaphysical
subjects while playing Scrabble or cooking Sunday dinner,
and I remember those times with such poignant joy and sorrow
-- joy because of our deep spiritual connection, sorrow because
those times, like my mother, are gone now.
And long after my mother had passed on,
when my son grew old enough that I finally had some time to
myself again, I remembered Edgar Cayce, and looked into those
"Search For God" study groups I had heard about.
I didn't know what to expect, and it took a lot of courage
for me to approach one. I know that sounds silly, but remember,
I'm the girl who thought the blue flower was forbidden to
her. What I found was a group of souls who welcomed me and
shared with me and with whom I have bonded and with whom I
have fostered a closeness that I never thought I would have
with another human being. They don't know much about my little
detour other than through passing references, and I don't
know that they would care, either. After being in the group
for a couple of years I started a Yahoo group (www.group.yahoo.com/caycethought)
where I relay the Edgar Cayce "Thought for the Day"
(via the Association for Research and Enlightenment), a yahoo
group that I had intended as a forum to discuss those ideas
that I may have a hard time getting a handle on. Now that
there are some members in the group, of course, I am unexpectedly
I would not have been able to become
the person I am today without that detour, without feeling
bereft and abandoned, without realizing that it was I who
abandoned myself, not God who had abandoned me. It took a
miracle to get me back on track, but I've come to believe
that miracles happen, all the time. There's a Grateful Dead
song with the lyrics "I need a miracle, every day!"
Don't we all! And we get those miracles, too. They just may
not seem like miracles at the time.
Stacie Kna is a technical writer currently
living in the wilds of Chapel Hill, having moved to the area
from her home state because her intuition told her to. She
still doesn't quite know why.