So often in our sincere attempts to be spiritual, we focus on increasing our energy or attaining connection to another dimension. And although these are worthy pursuits, we can miss the every day opportunities for spiritual connection and growth.
I watched The Blind Side this evening, a true story about a young man’s rise from poverty and abandonment via the love of people who became his family and teachers. I know that story all too well. You see, I also came from an extremely dysfunctional background. If it were not for the people who took a stand for me when I had no faith in myself, I would not be where I am today.
Some people entered my life for moment, while others have become my family. I do not remember all their names, but it is true about never forgetting their actions. There was the ninth grade biology teacher who would talk with me during my lunch hour. She recognized my need for attention.
In the tenth grade, I made the most important friend of my life. His name was John. Although the friendship was brief, it set the foundation for the changes to come. John was the first person to take a stand on my behalf. In spite of my sense of being unworthy of his courageous stand, John stood for the respect that I was denied.
In the eleventh grade, there was the advanced biology teacher, who compassionately took the time to answer my questions in relation to the conflicting information taught by the church and science. She made it alright to question and even doubt; more importantly, she made it acceptable to come up with my own conclusions independent of science and religion. She recognized my need to think for myself.
Each year of high school became more challenging and overwhelming. I was overwrought with responsibilities in my home and school. Before I could start on my pile of homework from all the advanced classes, there was laundry, housework, dinner, and putting the younger children to bed. I fell asleep many nights in my books. I thought my grades were faltering because I was less intelligent than my peers.
When I was not working at home, I was loaned out to neighbors and friends to clean their homes and watch their children. As the weight began to be too much, my school counselor, Mrs. Curly, once again called me into her office. I could no longer deny my home situation. I was missing too much school, sleeping in my classes, and failing to keep up with my course work.
For the first time, I was heard and believed when I told my story. Mrs. Curly even found a way for me to move out of my home to live with a maternal aunt. When I learned that I could not be forced to return to my mother’s home, I moved out the day after my seventeenth birthday. My path of recovery began. Mrs. Curly recognized my need for freedom.
Aunt Nancy provided me with the opportunity to regenerate. It was years later that I understood just how physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted I was when I left home. By the age of 16, I was surviving on four hours of sleep, if I were lucky. Aunt Nancy saw that I needed rest and an opportunity to be a teenager.
At the end of the school year, I moved in with another aunt, one that is not related to me by blood. I had been a part of Aunt Lyn’s, or mom as she has come to be, family since I was two. I had spent many a weekend at her parents’ home even before my sister was born. Granny and Pamps had always treated me as their own, even after my mother and stepfather divorced. Granny and Pamps saw I needed to be a little girl. Aunt Lyn saw that I needed to be a teenager with a future.
My senior year I transferred high schools. I was given another chance at being a good student and going to college. Each teacher made his own impression. The two who stand out were Mrs. Greer and Mrs. Langseth, who taught Advanced English and Advanced Math respectively. Each pushed and encouraged me onto things I never believed I was capable. Mrs. Greer and Mrs. Langseth held me to my potential.
Mr. Williamson, the guidance counselor, reinforced those expectations by working tirelessly to get me into the college of my choice, a school I could never have afforded. By all rights, I should have entered the community college after graduation. Mr. Williams held hope for me.
I have named just a few of the people who have profoundly affected my life. Each offered a piece of his or herself to guide an extremely insecure and overly responsible young girl toward the best the world has to offer. I am eternally grateful to each. Although I do not remember all their names, I remember their faces and I remember their loving kindness. In the end, what else is there?
It is because of their selfless acts, that I have been freed to develop my own spirituality and assist in the paths of others.
I do not tell this story to disparage my mother; I tell this story to demonstrate the every day spiritual acts that can make an enormous difference in the lives of those around you. Meditation is good, channeling can be mind stretching, and awakening the Kundalini can open up new worlds. However, the small daily acts are just as spiritually necessary for the spiritual transformation of our world as are the world meditations for peace.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
Who has touched your life? Who are you grateful for?