My mother had a large roll in establishing my connection to the greater whole. Her search for answers and a love of God gave me a good example in how to reach out and ask for what I/we needed. My Grandmere gave me my freedom in spirit and religion. My grandparents were Roman Catholic, my parents were more philosophers. My god parents were Jewish and my greater community was Sufi of the Inayati Order. I grew up wanting to please my grandparents and find ways of being closer to them. When I was 14 we moved to a house across the street from a Catholic church. I took it as a sign that I should join the faith. It made sense to me. My grandparents walked their faith and talk like no one I have ever known and so I had a love and respect for the Catholic church. I called my grandparents and told them that I would be joining the next CCD classes. They were very proud and supportive and I felt that I was on the right path. Of course, as the beginning of the classes drew nearer I kept thinking about why I was doing it. I came to realize with a couple of weeks left before my first class that I wasn’t doing it for me. I was doing it for them. My grandparents’ response was exactly why I had decided to join and learn. Knowing that I wasn’t doing it for me I called my grandparents again. I was sad to disappoint them but I felt that I needed to talk to them and explain why I would not be joining the class after all. My Grandmere said that she had some questions for me. I told her to go ahead and ask. This is what she said:
Dear, do you feel that you have a relationship with God? Can you talk to him? Do you feel that he hears you?
Do you feel that you know how to pray? Do you have prayers that you do? Do you feel that you pray from your heart and not your mind?
My response to each of these was, Yes! Absolutely! I feel very comfortable and feel heard. She then proceeded to tell me the words that freed me forever from a need to be fully devoted to any single religion. She said to me:
All I have ever wanted for any of you children is that you have a relationship with God. That you feel like he is with you. That you feel heard and supported. That you know in your heart that we are all connected and through God’s love we are all one. No matter where you pray that you will be heard. No matter how you pray, that you feel that you are coming from a place of love and connectedness. This is all I have ever wished for each of you. As long as you have that please don’t feel that I will judge you for not being of the same faith as I am.
These worlds lifted me then and now. They sustain me when I question myself. I go within and tap into my connectedness with all and pray for whatever my heart is longing for at the time. I express my gratitude for all that has come before and all that is yet to come. I am grateful for this moment and where it is leading me. I never would have guessed that she could have such a big heart as to allow me to be me and love me no matter what. Never have I been given a bigger gift. It allows me to be me in a way that no one else has encouraged to this degree. Her life of prayer inspires me to keep opening. Keep praying. Keep being me.
So, every day I count my blessings. No matter the day – good or bad, there is something that we gain. I keep my heart open. I listen. I hear. I say thank you to everything I experience – even if I don’t like it. I say thank you to the animals, the trees, the sidewalks, the cars and the roads, the roof over my head, my bank account, the people in my life, the work that I do, the people that I impact. I say thank you in many ways. I use my words regularly but sometimes it is a glance, a nod, a thought or a prayer.
Do you count your blessings?