I Healed My God Wound

It’s early December. It’s raining. It’s dark. My partner and I, along with two of our 4 children are headed north on 91 for an appointment. We pull off at exit 9. What is that, I say as two headlights are headed towards us. Not exactly what you expect to see on an interstate exit ramp. My partner has this ability to remain calm amidst the storm. This is a skill that I am working on. Many people in this scenario would veer away from the oncoming car. He does the opposite. He goes towards the oncoming car. His goal: get the other car to stop. It works. Many other people would have pulled to the right side of the road in an attempt to avoid the car. He, seeing two steps ahead realized that in doing so the driver of the car would have headed further towards the wrong way on a major interstate during rush hour. Oh. Fuck. Until I saw that the other car had stopped I was speechless. In those few moments of uncertainty I was frozen. Then, once I knew we were no longer in imminent danger of a head on collision I got out of our car, signaled to the cars behind us to stop, and walked over to the driver’s side window of the car that could have changed our lives forever.

A woman in her late 50’s rolls down the window. She is visibly distraught. Her navigation system telling her which way to go. Her husband on speaker phone yelling instructions at her which she can not hear through her panic. She asks if I can help her. Yes, I reply laying my hand on hers. But first, I tell her, I want you to take a deep breath. Ok, now take another one. She tells her husband that someone is here and the call finally disconnects. I’m trying to get to Dartmouth Hospital, she says. Ok, I can help you, I reply. I tell her that I’m going to get into her car and get her headed in the right direction. I get in, assess the situation and direct her to turn around. I show her were to pull over on the exit ramp. She does. My partner in the car behind us pulls over as well so that traffic can resume. He comes to the window to check in. Once he sees that I’ve got this he goes back to our car. I show her where she needs to turn to get headed in the right direction along with some simple instructions on how to get to her destination. She thanks me, more calm now than before, wipes away tears and calls her husband letting him know that everything is ok. I get out of her car and head back to ours. I get into the passenger’s seat. The following words come out of my mouth, “that was God. Thank you God for working through me.”

In earlier versions of myself if you had told me that those words would one day fall out of my mouth following what could have been a life ending event not only would I not have believed you but I would have been angry. Why? Because I had a God wound. A raw, festering hole inside my soul that oozed toxicity. God was my trigger for many many years. I’ve noticed that in our current cultural state of narcissism and over stimulation instead of healing our triggers we just cancel others for triggering us…at least the majority does. There is no spiritual or emotional culpability anymore. This is a problem. And a big one. Can I tell you how to heal yours? No, because I’m not your guru. I’m just someone who has healed mine over decades of inner work. Here’s my story. Get comfy. This is my longest post yet.

I was born in the early 80s in New Jersey to Quaker parents. I was raised in this faith. Some of my earliest memories are sitting in a wooden pew in the beautifully austere meeting house on Sunday mornings. Watching the light stream through enormous 12 over 12 windows. Wood, windows, light, and God. Quakers believe that nothing separates humans from accessing the divinity that is inherent in all of us. That no one is above another in their relationship to the sacred. If you’ve ever attended meeting you know what I’m talking about. The stillness. If you haven’t this is how it works. There is no ‘head of church’ no priest, no father, no pastor, no preacher. The congregation is the conduit through with God speaks. Parishioners enter the meeting house, sit down, and are still. Quaker meeting is simply this. Sitting in the stillness of God. If one of the congregants feels moved to speak they simply stand and do so, with reverence. If another feels moved to speak to their spiritual experience they allow for a moment of pause before sharing. It is a journey of learning how to listen, contemplate, and simply be. Looking back I see that my core memories of Quaker meeting have shaped who I am today in my ability to hold space for others.

At age 7 my parents would move us to Vermont where the closest meeting house was over an hour from our new home. Not exactly do-able. So the practice of Quakerism would fall away from my life. However I would still identify in this faith. As I grew into my early teen years I would have various opportunities to attend meeting in other places I traveled to. One of my favorites was in York, England. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to worship in the homeland of this faith. In college I would periodically attend meeting in Beacon Hill during my years at Suffolk University. I strive to live a life without regret but I do I wish I had attended more. It may have helped my tumultuous soul in finding peace.

This may be a bit of a surprise given my current spiritual path but, I can not tell you how much I LOVE gothic cathedrals. My first experience with the gothic cathedral came in 6th grade on a class trip to Montreal. We spent a few hours at the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal. While I don’t remember much about it what stayed with me was the sense of grander. The reverent quietude amidst this vast space. This sacred building was the opposite of what I had come to know in my early childhood. Stained glass, high ceilings, opulent carvings, plush carpets, magnificent sculpture, backlit niches, beautiful paintings…I have run out of words in describing this place and the impression it left on me. My love of Baroque & Rococo art was birthed from this holy place. I have gone on to visit Westminster Abbey, Roslyn Chapel, York Minster, and St. Magnus Cathedral. I don’t know how many ancient country churches & ruins I have stepped into in the Irish, English, Scottish, and German countrysides. The following bumper sticker would serve me well: I brake for cathedrals. To cross the threshold of a cathedral, whether intact or in ruin, is to step into time suspended. I don’t know if it was my visit to Notre Dame or another one but early on in my love affair of the gothic cathedral I came to understand that you do not have to be a Christian to love these buildings. The holy space of a cathedral has something to offer for everyone. Whether you need a quiet place to sit & think, have a love of art, or want to connect to the Divine…I hope you get to have this experience some day.

Not long after my experience in Notre Dame I’m about 13 years old, lying in my bed one night, looking up at the ceiling in our new house. The house in Woodstock that my mom bought with her mom so that we would have a place to live after being evicted from our house in Killington because my emotionally & physically absent father stopped sending money to pay the rent. At this point I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve seen my father. All I know is that my mom and dad are getting divorced and that it’s a bad situation. I know that my father does not pay child support. I am abandoned by father. I am angry, hurt, confused, and in anguish.

A few years earlier I had decided to learn the Lord’s Prayer. I’m reciting this in my head looking up to God but for some reason feeling alone, not at all comforted by this. In that moment of process of abandonment I start thinking about male & female roles. I do not remember how I came to this but I now understand that within the system of patriarchy that women have no last names. That we are essentially name-less. That our identity lies in the male lineage of name & ownership. I am irate about this. I have been abandoned by my father and now seeing the patriarchy in Christianity I am enraged. In this moment I choose to reject God in the only sense that I have known God until now. As male. Fuck this. I am done. I am DONE being disappointed by men. I do not know it at the time but in doing so I have now laid the groundwork for much more inner suffering because of this attitude I now have for religion. I now exist in a state of I am right and you are wrong. I will not hear your side of the story. This moment also happens to coincide with my Mom’s coming out at age 45 and the rejection she experienced at the hands of ultra religious family members because of her sexuality. I was swimming in a sea of rejection, pain, resentment, and outrage. Cue misguided concepts of what I thought feminism was…hatred of men for simply being male.

As I trod into this new space of anger I allowed myself to be triggered by the word God. God was a bad word in my quality world. God represented betrayal. God was not to be trusted. God was the epitome of all things negative. God was judgement. God was unloving. God was male. Male was bad. Bad was to be avoided. Don’t speak to me of God because I don’t want to hear it. How can God be good if God allows bad things to happen to good people? How can God make people LGBTQIA and then allow them to be treated with cruelty? How can God allow my mother to be considered as less than, or a mistake by others if God is supposed to be good? No. I was having none one this bullshit. I was so reactive that any mention of the G word in my presence would unleash a verbal tongue thrashing from me that would make a grown man cry. I was a ticking time bomb of rage.

In high school I befriended a girl who was a grade above me. She was Wicca. She was outspoken. She was mysterious. She was bisexual. Later I would learn how toxic our friendship would become but then I saw all these things as empowering. She introduced me to tarot, chakras, marijuana, astrology, indoor rock climbing, and all things new age spiritual. Her family took me to a stone chamber on a hillside on Winter Solstice morning to watch the sunrise. Later on, camping with them in the Adirondacks. It was my first friendship where because her family was so welcoming I felt completely accepted. Eventually she became an unstable, controlling, mix of mental illness and attention seeking behaviors. I chose to end my friendship with her for my own personal safety. I will always be grateful for her. She taught me how to stand up for others & not give a shit about what anyone thinks of me. Thank you Becca. Wherever you are I hope life is good.

By the time I graduated high school and entered college I had experienced both an abusive long term relationship and sexual abuse at the hands of one of my teachers. I would begin my collegiate journey as the key witness in an investigation against said teacher. Not exactly “normal.” Once I shed myself of the toxic boyfriend (we decided to go to the same college) I dove headfirst into yoga and the lineage of Buddhism called Shambhala. Honestly, I can’t really remember what the path of Shambhala is all about but I can tell you that at the time it was helpful. While many of my college peers were out drinking on Thursday nights I took the T to Brookline where I would attempt to sit in meditation. Seated meditation is one of the most physically painful practices that I would put my body through. Twenty years later and I still can’t do it.

Looking back at that time I can see how naive I was in my exploration. Yeah I said I dove into yoga but really I fiddled around with my yoga deck, mat & bricks in an attempt to create a certain image of myself to others. The two abusive relationships that I spoke of earlier would leave me in a place of seeking external validation. Now, I see this. Then, I couldn’t. It was also around this time that I went a few times to the Quaker meeting house on Beacon Hill. The idea of God was still very raw in me but I was beginning to soften a little bit to the idea that maybe God wasn’t all bad. I don’t recall when this subtle shift happened but it did. I would end up leaving Suffolk University in my junior year. After spending a summer taking care of a house on a large piece of land in the woods I returned to the city with a broken heart in leaving the magic of Vermont. I transferred to Goddard College where I would end up focusing on ancient megalithic monuments of Great Britain and Ireland.

Sometime in middle school I was out with my mom at one of our favorite mystical shops in Rutland, The Dragon’s Leyr. I remember being drawn to the concept of Yin Yang in my early teen years. Of course it would be many years before I fully understood what the meaning of this was. But at that age something about it was captivating. It was in this shop, with my mom, that I bought my first tarot deck. It’s a Celtic deck with beautiful artwork. I would try and give readings to my first audience, my mom. She was so patient with me as I transversed my exploration into new age spirituality. We didn’t have a lot of money so my getting these cards was a big deal. I brought them with me to college and would do readings for my room mates. It was fun. I was the weird artsy girl with tarot cards who would attempt to see your future. I still have them. I love them. Although I never felt called to fully delve into the science of tarot I pull them out from time to time and remember parts of my youth through them. I consider them my first real spiritual tool.

In reflection I see that these cards were my gateway into Celtic history, culture, & mysticism. They opened a portal that over two decades later I am still traveling through. My pilgrimage to Ireland in 2007 played a pivotal role in my spiritual development. I can stand in the truth of the following statement: Newgrange is a place that forever changed me. As I stated earlier I wrote my undergraduate thesis on ancient megalithic monuments of GB & Ireland. I built a small stone circle on my moms land as part of this process. The trip to Ireland was also a part of my studies. Immersion in the ancient places that I was writing about made it all real. Seeing, touching, smelling, and energetically feeling these sacred spaces opened me. Standing in the pitch black of a 5,000 year old earth and stone chamber while waiting for a recreation of the Winter Solstice sunrise I finally understand. The importance of light in ancient times. Fire & the sun equal survival in the ancient world. Without them humans perish. This is my first grasp of the sacredness of elemental magic.

What surprised me most about Newgrange was that it felt exactly like standing in the nave of a cathedral. Once inside the central part of the chamber you look up to see the perfectly corbeled megaliths above you. Looking up I was in awe. On this trip I would also travel to other stone chambers on the tops of remote Irish mountainsides built in the same way as Newgrange only smaller. I would crawl on my belly through tunnels twenty feet long and maybe three feet high to reach the inner sanctum. The place of silence inside the belly of stone and earth. The place of reverence in darkness. In stillness. How peaceful those places felt. Akin to the womb. I wish I could have conjured fire inside them. Laid offerings. Honored them in some way. I hope that my pilgrimage & presence was enough for the ancient ones to feel witnessed.

It’s 2011. I’ve been married for six months when I begin a nine month apprenticeship into plant spirit medicine with Sage Maurer at the Gaia School of Earth Education & Healing. That year all the students happened to be female. Something that doesn’t usually occur. This was my first foray into the healing power of women’s circles. This would be the place where I enter the spirit world for the first time (that I know of). Some of the plant spirits I met, and fell in love with, facilitated shifted brainwaves, past life regression, and shamanic journeying. In this class I would call in Peyote medicine. It would be ten years later until she agreed to work with me. I entered this sacred space of learning a young woman and emerged a fully initiated Witch. It would take me several more years to publicly “come out” of the broom closet. Halfway through this course I would arrive in the space of being called to dive deeper into the healing arts. In the Fall of 2011 I begin my 750 hour certification in the Tibetan art of Ku Nye therapy. The most ancient of all bodywork.

Around the time of starting my apprenticeship I would meet Seth & Cherie. They were newly weds at the time. A few years older than my husband and I. They seemed nice. Seth a local, and Cherie from the west coast originally. Seth is a woodworker and an excellent one at that. Cherie worked in an office in town as an assistant and had a fire deep inside her to explore her creativity. I love this about her. Pretty early on, and it may have even been in our first conversation we learned they are Seventh Day Adventist. I think my eyes bulged out of my head a little bit. Guys if you’re reading this please know I wasn’t healed yet so to meet people who were not only Christian, but so Christian that it’s part of a first introduction was a bit surprising. Oh no, I thought, I hope this goes well but there is a good chance it won’t. Clearly my guard was still up when it came to the Christ folks.

We have had many thoughtful & philosophical discussions over the decade plus that we’ve now known each other. I’m not sure exactly when but in our conversations I began to employ the tool of substitution. When either of them would use the God word I would swap it with Spirit, Universe, Great Being. After a while the G word just didn’t seem so harsh. So big. Heavy. Negative. It took on a sense of softness. My mind was starting to realize that even though we both call it something different it’s really just the same kind of energy when you distill it. I hope you know how much you mean to me, truly.

Through Seth & Cherie I have witnessed the true teachings of Christ more times than I can count. I have been shown what it really is to be in the love of Christ. Let me tell you my friends it is a beautiful thing to witness. When I shared with them news of my divorce I was really nervous that this might be out of their values and that we’d no longer have common ground. That it was just too much for them. How wrong I was. Out of everyone I sought friendship and support from during that time they were two of the most steadfast and loving of all. Once again I was shown’s Christ’s love working through two humans. Now I know what the word Grace means.

In 2014 I attended a retreat on the sacred land of Khandroling in Western, Mass. Chogyam Namkai Norbu had been the Rinphoche responsible for bringing The Shang Shung Institute of Tibetan Medicine to the east coast where I studied under a Tibetan doctor learning Ku Nye. He wasn’t in the states very much at that point due to his age so I thought this might be the only time that I get to experience retreat with him. I booked my spot. Chose accommodations of camping on the land. And took the time off from work. Let me tell you friends, I do not camp well. When I say I don’t camp well it means I don’t sleep well while I’m camping. I love love love the idea of camping…making food outside, being outside, living outside, hearing outside at night, doing all the things of life but outside. I like outside. However. Full stop. I. Am. A. Hobbit. Sigh. This means that try as I might, alas, I will never be able to sleep in anything but a bed in order to be fully functioning the next morning. Needless to day I would arrive every morning for first session pretty groggy. Put me in a dimly lit auditorium, in July temps, having slept like shit the night before and, yes I WILL fall asleep. I must not have been the only one though because at one point I remember (in a moment of brief consciousness) Rinpoche talking about receiving just as much in dreamtime as awaketime.

A few years later I had reconnected with a friend I met during the retreat. I knew he was pretty knowledgeable having studied under Rinpoche so he came to mind when I had a few questions about how to get back into the practice of Green Tara. I told him that I had been thinking about converting to Dzogchen for a few years. That I was ready to “take refuge” as it’s called. At this point in our conversation he laughed his beautifully soft laugh and said “you already have! At the retreat Rinpoche gave you the rLung.” (facepalm, I must have been asleep)

Sometimes just for fun when people ask me what I am spiritually I reply, I’m an accidental Buddhist.

I can’t remember how I got introduced to the church of Unitarian Universalism but somehow I did. I went once or twice in high school to the one in Woodstock. I liked it more than I imagined I would. It felt kind. It felt welcoming. It felt like I could belong there. For their values of being a welcoming organization along with amazing humanitarian efforts I will always align with this faith. In late 2017 I found myself looking for support in a way that I hadn’t before. I was just over two years into motherhood and postpartum depression, had a husband who was a workaholic, and his father was dying in the hospital. I needed something. Not only did I need something spiritually but I also needed a few hours on a Sunday morning where I could just chill while my child was watched by someone else. Church seemed like a good idea at the time. I eventually settled on a Unitarian Universalist church in Chester, Vt. They seemed like good people. I had known other people who had joined over the years and spoke warmly of the congregation. I loved the stone building it was in. Apart from the stained glass windows it was austere and reminded me in some ways of my first meeting house back in New Jersey.

Like many other UU churches at the time this particular one had seen better days and instead of employing a full time minister they had about 6 or 7 ministers & speakers who they rotated through. Interesting. I tried to go weekly. It was nice to feel a sense of community at a time when in young motherhood I felt isolated and alone much of the time still. Hearing a different minister each week was a nice way to keep the experience of being preached to intellectually stimulating. Hearing all variety of how God was pro-nouned really started to take route in my psyche. I would reflect from time to time on which words each pastor used in talking about the Divine. Each word felt right. Each word for God was someone’s truth. Huh. My daughter’s favorite part was at the end where she got to have cookies after the service while everyone socialized. I met a very good friend through this church whom I love dearly. She taught a belly dancing class in the basement of the church one winter. It was so wonderful to connect with myself this way under her guidance. I was asked to do the Winter Solstice sermon in December before Covid. It was a lovely experience and one that I am proud of myself for having done. I attended for a while and then fell away during Covid. There had also been a schism within leadership which really bothered me. This schism resulted in someone on staff being treated poorly. After that I didn’t feel ok about going back.

At this point in the story I am two years out from my life altering journey to Hawai’i just before Covid broke. The journey that would gift my request to work with Mother Peyote. However, these last two years deserve their own post. And they will receive their proper honoring. For now thought I can tell you that the other day I was in the shower thinking about God and how that word doesn’t hurt anymore. The trigger is gone. I stood there, under the water, just sitting with this knowledge. Wow. It felt lighter. It felt like when you take off the bandaid and underneath is fresh smooth skin. As cliche as it sounds it truly was a moment of awe. I also felt it necessary to take a moment to recognize all the work that I’ve done around this for over two decades. I’m proud of myself for having done the hard, painful introspection that comes with growth. This feels pretty awesome. God and I are good.

The other day I saw a meme on FB that read, “normalize calling Christianity mythology.” I found it upsetting. Why? Because of all the words I said above. Because it’s not ok to Yuck someone’s Yum. What’s sacred to you might not be sacred to me but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to piss all over your ritual. Can we not do that to each other please? And no, I am not blind to all of the inhumanity that has occurred in the name of God. Trust me I get pretty livid about a whole bunch of human rights violations at the hands of people from all of the world’s religions. But I have news for you. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Paganism, et al., each and every faith has its light and its shadow. And organized religion is not going anywhere folks. All religions, organization, and movements have their redeeming qualities alongside their damning ones. I would love to see each and every person live by the age old truism: treat others how you would like to be treated. As long as your Faith/God/Spirit/Sacred Muppet does not require you to cause harm to your fellow human, you are I are good.