Yesterday, well many yesterdays ago, my faith in God was empty, fruitless. Locked in my desire to do the right thing, it was hard to turn away from an ideal that had never fit, and fear of damnation jailed me in my own misery.
I began a career path that led me to work on a Native American reservation in the northwest. It was the most challenging and ultimately rewarding experience of my entire career, and led me out of the darkness into the promise of enlightenment. It was there that I met Chris.
Now Chris was the acting head of my department until I was hired. Often times Chris and I would work together early in the morning setting the department to rights in preparation for a new clinical day. It was during those times that we shared more than professional responsibility. Having lived on a reservation for most of her life, Chris held strong ties to the Native American traditions, but still claimed connection to the Christian faith. At first I was afraid to ask her how that was possible. In my head my questions were, “How can you do that?” “How can you embrace Paganism and Christianity?” (Perhaps you are seeing that I am quite the linear thinker. It’s a shadow issue. I’m working on it.) Finally, I just did. I asked Chris how she could know Jesus and practice traditional cultural values. You know, she looked at me like I was crazy, her black eyes glinting with incredulity and then amusement. Quietly, so that I would have to listen closely, she said, “I believe they walk hand in hand.” From that day forward, my journey in spirituality began to brighten. As my inner spirit was fed though nature, through prayer, through ritual, I found that indeed I could walk my own pagan path of spirituality, and honor all other walks of faith. I found my way to Self, a place that Chris had reached much earlier in her life.
Now, as I begin my walk within the Sisterhood of Avalon, I too have found my place, my people. Though Chris crossed over to her spirit life several years ago, I remember her simple, yet profound wisdom born of her truth. She walks with me still, always alive, always honored for her joyous connection to family, her people, and for all she taught me through her love of life.