When I was a single parent, working with AIDS patients at an inner city hospital, I used to have lunch with another single parent friend. She recognized my tendency to become overly involved with my patients and lose sight of my own life. "Earth activities, Kris. That's what you need," she would say. "Ground yourself on this planet. Clean the fish tank, water the plants, wash the floor."
Last week at work, I overly-identified with one of my patients and his family and got swallowed up in their lives. I lost my grip on my own life. I thought a weekend at a Benedictine monastery would help me get back in touch with myself. Paradoxically, it did just the opposite. It reinforced that old mindset of magical thinking which was so familiar in the cult. Finding a community that seemed "open and free," (that phrase should have tipped me off) was a "tangled root" that led me farther and farther away from my real life.
My tendency to launch off into space in search of some spiritual truth can lead me to the brink of madness. I long for a connection with the universe and forget to recognize that I already have one. Like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," I go running off to find something that I've had all along. I AM connected, like it or not.
The trip to the monastery was a trip to the extreme reaches of religion. You don't get much more religious than to sit under a large ebony cross of Jesus and listen to a dozen robed men chant the psalms. I felt sort of like Snow White among the seven Dwarfs. Only there were twelve of them and they were the ones dressed in white.
After my voyage to the brink, I've decided I'm going to cut back on my spirituality and invest more in the here and now of planet Earth. Many other people seem to be able to handle the spiritual quest but I don't seem to be one of them. I spin out of orbit too easily and become ungrounded.
My life seems dull in comparison to the resurrection and ascension of Christ but at least it's MY life. I have many connections: my family, my work, my art, my friends, my home, nature, the universe, and yes, God, whoever that is. I realize what's often missing is often a connection with my own heart and soul. My life. The breath may not be quite as exciting but at least I have my sanity. And what's more important than that?