So, I feel inclined, as I blog again, to reflect on my ‘spiritual journey’.
Two questions have inspired me to start writing once more. The first is: ‘What have I brought back from my various ‘adventures’ in foreign lands?’ Not meaning my material souvenirs, but rather what I have gained from rubbing elbows with the different people I have met; what has been worked into me by adjusting to such new-to-me cultures and what about the infrastructure often less convenient than here? How did I manage culture shock? And most importantly, and how did I grow spiritually through my travels? I hope that anecdotal reflections on my material journeys will shed light on these questions within the over-riding one.
However, this journey began well before I ever ventured overseas. I began ‘wandering’ as a child. It seems to have been in my DNA. And much of my time could metaphorically be considered ‘in the wilderness’ in that I often felt lost.
Which leads to my second guiding question, ‘In what ways have I been aware of the movement God within my soul throughout my life?’ If you believe, as I do, that God is omnipresent, then God would have been there every moment of my life long before I was aware of anything. But awareness of God, or Spirit if you will, is often subjective and hard to pin down. Nevertheless, I’d like to begin at the beginning for now. Although I might choose to jump around in my narration later!
I grew up with very little ‘religion’. My first experience of church was when I visited a friend’s house, at the tender age of 5, to spend the night. Permission to do this was only given if I agreed to go to church with her family. So I went along and I remember very little of this encounter which now makes any sense. The exception being that I do recall my friend’s mother inviting me to “accept Jesus” into my heart by praying a simple prayer. I cannot recall what I thought of this idea then, but I was quite malleable and did as I was asked. I don’t have many clear childhood recollections, but I remember this episode with some clarity. I believe that this was my first conscious encounter with God moving in my spirit. I believe I was given the impression at that time that this person, Jesus – whoever he was, cared about me.
The youngest of five children with an overwhelmed mother, I was often left to my own devices. I would wander the neighborhood and visit elderly ladies who must have spoiled me with cookies. (Parents weren’t so concerned about keeping track of their kids in those days!) I would play alone in the school yard or our backyard climbing the plum tree. I loved to swim and must have been given swimming lessons quite young (or else my parents had little fear of the possibility of drowning) because I had lots of time alone in our small, circular doughboy pool. I remember many peaceful moments of light sparkling on the water and peeking through the grape arbor and I think God seemed very near then.
Music is very powerful and many songs from those great early Disney movies along with others such as The Wizard of Oz made a deep impression on me. On one occasion alone in the late afternoon in the school yard while swinging high on one of those tall chainlike swings they had then, I sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow and wished that I could go there. That was my idea of Heaven.
[As an aside, I’ve since learned that this song has musical power because musically speaking Dorthy is “longing for high C”.]
This song made me yearn for another world, the something deeper, something magical that children, and adults want if we’re honest. As C.S. Lewis put it, “I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
There were other instances in my childhood when Heaven drew me and I felt the presence of God hovering near. Perhaps I’ll reflect more on them here soon.
Thanks for reading! I hope that you check out the link above if you’re interested in music and find out how that song worked.