Claudia is my spiritual guide. … She looks more like an early 70′s guitar player than a gifted psychoanalyst, yoga practitioner, mother, and spiritual guide. … Claudia specializes in eco-conscious Christianity and the role of the Feminist in Christianity. … Claudia and I have been working together these past three weeks in one-on-one sessions, 1 day a week, 1 hour at a time. In our sessions we discuss my relationship with God, my views on my experience here, and what the future holds for me in terms of my spirituality. … I like Claudia. She is funny and fun, she is wise and patient, and insightful. And she has been flawless in executing that task of all those whose job it is to probe the human heart: she makes me ask myself the tough questions and she makes me look inside myself for the answers to those questions.
… Claudia and I comfortably settled into the time we had together with her asking me about my life up until this summer and why I had come to Holy Wisdom. The next session we dug in a little deeper, Claudia letting me lead the way with the shovel, and we ended up discussing my relationship with my parents and their view of faith and the role that religion played in their lives. And then in later sessions we would discuss my marriage and divorce and what that had done to impact my faith and whether or not it was still affecting it. We would also discuss where I would go from here in regards to my faith journey and how I would use the knowledge gleaned from our sessions to inform my life for better.
I am somewhat of a ruminator. I chew thoughts like a cow chews a particular piece of cud… I try not to think too hard about things I can’t change or “what if” type situations because it just makes me nuts. The point is, I am a contemplative person. For better or for worse, I think about things. A lot. Probably more than is good for me. I have often thought it would be good for me to take up some form of manual labor if only to be forced out of my head more often than I currently am with work, yoga, etc. So there’s a lot of thoughts flying around in there regarding religion and spirituality and the universe and all that. Enter Claudia.
She didn’t exactly take me out of my head but she didn’t exactly keep me in it either. She sort of …well, organized my brain. Like cleaning a closet, she had me take everything out regarding faith, religion, etc and she stood there with a label-maker while I decided what to keep, toss, or sell. It was astounding how all these thoughts that I suppose had always been in the back of my brain came to the surface the longer we chatted. It was pretty amazing what came out … discussing what was affecting my ability to find God. So we dug deeper.
Talking with Claudia, I discovered that the approach my grandmother took to Catholicism was very different than the approach my own mother took to the same religion. … I have explained in previous posts how my grandmother’s expression of faith was one rooted in understanding and acceptance. Her vision of God was one of Supreme Love, a sunburst that took in every person around it and warmed them in its rays. … And you were good for goodness’s sake. … And if you did do something bad, why, you would feel it in your heart and then you would try very hard to never do it again. Claudia and I discussed the idea that perhaps my grandmother’s view of her faith had undergone many revolutions over time, informed by her life’s events and the experiences she had with her church, other people, and her own bouts with self-exploration. The idea came to me that perhaps my grandmother had started out much like my own mother was I was a little girl, and that over time, her understanding of her faith grew into the Faith I had seen demonstrated over time. Time, in other words, had polished the small bit of coal -earthy and not very yielding- and through many revolutions of the heart had turned it into something of great value.
My mother’s view on the other hand seemed to be more Rule and Judgment based. …a God to be feared, a Jesus to look askance at with the question always, “Am I doing this right?” … The simple explanation of my mother’s rulebook of faith was, “Trust the Church and all her representatives, don’t ask questions or argue, and nothing bad will happen to you.” Needless to say, having internalized this at a very young age and having had it ingrained in her for all of her childhood, my mother did not view her faith as an ever-changing thing but as more of a monolith that would stand unchanging for all time. She did not brook questions very well and saw my early wonderings as a lack on her part in my upbringing. If she had done a better job of raising me in the faith, I think she may have wondered, I wouldn’t be so disobedient and willful, I wouldn’t have asked so many questions or been so unsatisfied with the answers.
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For additional excerpts from Sarah’s on-going blog, click on this link: A Confirmed City Girl looks for God in a Monastery
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For information about spiritual guidance available through Holy Wisdom Monastery click on this link.