Today in yoga my teacher said to stop listening to our minds and to pay attention to something much more subtle. A devotee to the body and subtly energies, there was nothing new about this request. However, I took it on newly and tried to release my mind and sense that something subtle.
It seemed impossible today, and I found my eyes quickly filling with tears. I wasn’t sad, exactly, as much as I was present to how hard it is for me to sense and feel God right now.
For those of you who are wondering (and maybe none of you are), yes, I believe in God.
I don’t believe God is a man or someone to be feared. I don’t believe he’s the one and only and that I must devote myself to him if I hope to go to heaven. I don’t believe that God is all of us or a universal presence (necessarily). But I have sensed God, and I do know that something exists.
What exactly that is, I have no idea.
I grew up hoping that God existed and that there was something beyond my pain and seemingly misdirected life that was somehow putting me on the path to happiness and freedom. I hoped that there was a reason for everything and that someone, somewhere, was under control. I found myself feeling safe and comfortable in churches and other religious places and I often fantasized about becoming a nun so that I could sit in God’s presence constantly and devote my every day to him, or it, or whatever it was.
As an adult, when I mentioned to one of my spiritual teachers that I often considered being a nun, he gently laughed and said something like, “Annie Rose, I think you would last about 5 minutes not being with men.” He was right. He handed me a book about Neem Karoli Baba and several tapes of Ram Dass. I took them home and read and listened over and over again for weeks straight. Strange things started to happen. I started to notice 33s everywhere. My airplane seat. My hotel room. The time. Random pieces of graffiti. My best friend’s favorite number. Then, I googled Neem Karoli Baba one day and spelled his name wrong. Up popped a weird website selling Chinese jewelry. Then, the screen changed to an entire screen—and I kid you not—of 33s. It was a sign, to me, that Neem Karoli Baba was my guru. I started to study his words and actions, and I learned a lot about God.
The first time I experienced God, I was on a spiritual journey in the wilderness. I won’t explain exactly what happened, but I came out of that journey knowing with all of my heart—and feeling quite relieved, I might add—that God did indeed exist and that God was definitely present in my life. What followed that moment was a year of some of the most mind-, heart-, and soul-opening revelations about love, God, life, and the nature of humanity I’ve ever experienced. Through additional spiritual journeys, twice daily meditations, tons of mantras, tons of sacred dance, numerous dreams, a few out-of-body experiences, and lots of reading and conversations, I felt God thoroughly and deeply.
I haven’t experienced God since then. I don’t know why. It’s as if someone said, “Whoops! That’s enough for you. Goodbye, now” and simply took God away. I still hope that God exists, and I still have experiences that tell me that there is something beyond me, but I’ve lost my faith. Sometimes I lay in bed trying hard to have faith. I remind myself that trust is something I can give freely and that I don’t need evidence to give it. But that’s hard sometimes, and I often question whether or not God truly does exist.
On a somewhat different note, I have these three spirit guides. My psychic-intuitive friend Shoshanna alerted me of them a few years ago, and I’ve been talking to them ever since. Sometimes I even do it out loud, like I did during a 10-hour walk by myself on El Camino. One of my spirit guide’s names is Carlina. She resides on my left. Another is Lucé. He resides on my right. And then there is Alhamba. He resides behind me. Carlina is this soothing, motherly type who always loves me, sends me healing energy, and guides me with care, sweetness, and strength. Lucé is this French man who makes me laugh, reminds me to remain lighthearted, and keeps me connected to my sensitivities. Alhamba is an African man who stands strong and tall behind me, always offering protection and strength and reminding me to stand firm, tall, and proud. All of them provide me with distinct guidance and energies, and sometimes they work together when times get tough. They give me all kinds of wisdom, and they help me through moments of confusion, sadness, and despair. I feel lucky to have them.
So how in the world can I sense and feel spirit guides but not have any faith in God? What does that mean? I think of my spirit guides as sacred and divine, but somehow I don’t see them as God. But then again, I do.
So who exactly do I think God is? And what exactly do I hope God does? I recognize that I hope that God makes things okay. I hope that he has plans and that everything is working out accordingly. I hope that despite my very human mistakes, confusion, and uncertainty, God is working everything out for the best. But I wonder about that. If God is doing that, why do we have social injustice? Why are there senseless killings? Why are some people suffering so much? I don’t really believe in karma, and I find so much of the suffering happening on our planet senseless. While I would like to believe that God has a hand in all of it, I just can’t make sense of that. So if God doesn’t have a hand in that, how can God have a hand in making sure that I’m okay and that I’m on the right path? How can God give me those gifts but not give them to others?
I notice that I’m hungry for God right now. I want to know that I’m doing the right thing in so many areas. I have lots of tools for comforting and empowering myself in life, but I still want some confirmation that all of life is in service to something and that that something exists beyond my limited scope.
I think that’s it for now.
In love and liminality,