I’ve contemplated writing about my spiritual awakening experience for a while now, but it has never quite felt like the right time. Words aren’t always adequate to capture an experience that’s both deeply personal and is best understood as a felt, embodied sense rather than something that can be described and analyzed. But I am going to try my best because it feels important to begin sharing how my own path has included twists and turns for those who may have had their own interesting, unexplainable experiences.
I grew up within the Catholic religion, experiencing all the prescribed milestones throughout my childhood: Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. I even had the opportunity to visit the Vatican and see the pope from afar in my teens. While I always appreciated the rich tradition that Catholicism provided, beautiful religious art and architecture especially, as I grew into my late teens and early 20’s I began to look at religion as a cultural signpost, a representation of my heritage, rather than as a spiritual tradition. I recognized that religion did provide spiritual support for many and good moral foundations, but it had never fully connected the dots for me and the dogma didn’t seem to fit my developing sense of self-autonomy. And so I left it at that….without the drive to explore further, I labeled myself as agnostic in my young adulthood and visited Church only on holidays.
Science and research became another “religion” of sorts for me in my late 20’s as I entered graduate school for psychology. It seemed to provide solidity in a way that was comforting, in a way that I could get behind. There was a prescribed sequence of inquiry, analysis, and data that research provided. My analytical left brain found satisfaction and excitement in finding new ways to explore the world of human nature through reading, citing, and conducting research. I felt like I had a greater understanding of the world, a foundation from which to base my decisions, actions, and worldview. And I did….but little did I know, as I entered my final year of graduate school, that things were about to get a whole lot less linear.