I was born into a non-religious household. Neither my parents, nor their parents, were religious people. My mom would take us to church once or twice a year on Easter or Christmas, but it was more like an outing than a spiritual experience. Despite this, I fell in love with church when I was a teenager. I would go with my friend’s family on Sunday mornings and then back to her house for grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate milkshakes. I loved it; the sermons, the singing, the sense of community, and the family time afterwards.
I stopped going to church when I went to university, but I never stopped longing for a spiritual community. I found it when I moved to Toronto. For about 8 years, I met with a small group of women every month on the full moon to meditate and pray. On high holidays, such as spring equinox and summer solstice, we opened our circle to our partners and children and added a pot luck meal to our ceremonies. For another 8 years, I joined a larger circle of women led by a Shaman. We did weekly classes, weekend workshops, healing ceremonies, and vision quests together. These two circles of women were incredibly important to me. While we talked little during our time together, we knew things about each other that few others in our lives knew. We shared our fears, our grief, our longings, and our dreams within the container of “sacred space”. I felt more true to myself in these gatherings than any other place in my life.
I moved away from Toronto about 15 years ago and have not been part of a spiritual community since leaving. A few years ago, I visited a local church. It was the first time I had been in a church in many years. When I sat down in the pew, I began crying. Tears kept rolling down my face and I could not stop them. I could not figure out why I was crying. It was not the sermon that was causing the tears. It had something to do with the church; It was evoking some deep sense of grief and longing in me. It was like returning home after too many years away. I left that day, not feeling the desire to return to that church, but with a deep longing to reconnect with spirit, and to do so with a circle of like-minded people.
I have still not found a spiritual community but I have begun meditating once again, alone, and with a friend. And then on winter solstice a few months ago, my friend and I, four of our teen-aged children, and another friend, all met at my home for a small ceremony. We chanted, meditated, and shared prayers for ourselves, the planet, and the people. And it felt good. It left me feeling centred and connected. And it made me feel hopeful. It made me feel that perhaps we can create for ourselves the spiritual community that I have been longing for.
kp: your blog is looking “amazing,” what a collection of stories….beautiful, and sad, and heart-warming and courageous. Keep it up! Also, re: spiritual community, check out the Circle of Light Wellness Centre. Your “about” page fascinates :-)