As I sit here at my second Saturn return, I’m doing some life-review. This article is Part 1 in a series prompted by my reflections on a painful turning p0int in my life and my deepening understanding of the nature of Saturn, how it shows up in the sign of Sagittarius, and the gifts of the second Saturn return.
I’m looking at some of the defining moments in my life. Defining moments are not always joyful and triumphant. The greatest realizations are often hard-won, and their full meaning is often seen only in hindsight. Can I share one of my defining moments with you? It’s a story I’ve told time and time again, but now I see it from a broader perspective. This is the story of an excruciating moment that turned out to be the moment I was set free. I set myself free to follow my own path, claim my inner knowing, and find the Truth for myself. Here’s the story of How I Lost God and Found My Way.
My hunger for spiritual experience started to surface when I was 11 years old. That summer, I went to sleep-away camp. It wasn’t your average camp with swimming lessons, Capture-the-Flag, and bunk beds. We did have all those things, but we also learned Hebrew, celebrated Shabbat, and fortified our Jewish identity. By the end of the summer, I had an intense desire to be more religious. If I did it all just right, I’d earn God’s approval. Or so I hoped.
During my second summer at camp, I had a profound experience. As I sat quietly by the lake, immersed in nature, I felt a sense of connection to something greater, something deeply peaceful and vastly beautiful…something that can’t be confined within the walls of a synagogue, nor bound to ancient symbols on parchment, nor limited to a particular religion. It was a glorious feeling…connecting with the Divine through nature. By contrast, following all the rules and performing all the religious rituals had left me feeling rigid and empty. I fell tumbling into a well of disillusionment about Judaism and the notion of God as the angry father.
At the end of that summer, I gathered up my courage and broke the news to my mother: “I don’t believe in Judaism, and I don’t believe in God.” My mother reacted with an anger that shocked me. “How can you not believe in God?” she yelled. “You’re too young to know what you think!” I felt deeply hurt and angered by her dismissive, authoritarian reaction. Knowing that my father would be even less receptive to this news, I decided never to expose my precious awakenings to them, again. Door slammed. Locked shut.
In that defining moment, I abandoned my religious heritage and set myself on a solo journey guided only by my inner compass. It was a huge, lonely step for a 12 year old. This turning point separated me from my family. Yet it aligned me with my soul’s desire for direct spiritual experience and led me on a quest to find The Truth.
My circuitous path took me from Judaism to atheism to studies of Buddhist philosophy. At another twist in the road, I met Jesus (a life-changing experience, which is a story in itself). That opened the door to A Course in Miracles and other non-dual teachings, which led to a major awakening in 2013. Through years of seeking, I came to find my True Nature.
As I look back from today’s vantage point, I see that I had to find my own way. I had to leave the confines of traditional religion and the limiting perspectives of outer authorities in order to find the Divine, in my own direct experience. What about you? What painful, messy, tragic moments in your life have made you who you are? What dark nights of the soul have propelled you to grow and evolve? What financial disasters, failed relationships, or bad career moves might you choose to look at from a new perspective? Take some time, look deeply, and consider the strength and wisdom formed in the crucible of your mistakes, your losses, and your disappointments.
(Click here for Part 2: Soul Contracts and Forgiveness)
(Click her for Part 3: Four Dimensions of Forgiveness)
(Click here for Part 4: How I Came Back to God)