As many of you know, I took my mom to Transformations Spirituality Center last Wednesday. Transformations was formerly known as Nazareth College, a nursing school, until they closed many years ago. It has since offered Spiritual retreats by the Sisters of St. Joseph. I have “checked it out” for many years, but never dived in. As it turned out, I didn’t have to because spirit led the way this time.
Last week while doing the message work among the cards I received was “Mother Healing-As your feelings toward your mother heal, your desires manifest more rapidly and accurately.” mmmmm I’ve had to distant myself from my mother for a little while (OK more than a little) because I find her energy extremely draining. I thought it was imperative to my survival to spend time in growth rather than recovering lost energy. I know she wasn’t happy, but I’m lucky to have many family members to pick up the slack (Although they are starting to fade, too). I was waiting for something to come along that would assist in this issue. I wasn’t actively seeking a solution, but mindful that something would come along. So here I am with the Mother Healing card telling me to take action (and also saying the key to my success is tied to it!), but no solutions came forth. OK, yes, you are right; it is time, but what?
The next day, I received the “Father Healing-Your personal power increases as you give any father-related issues to Heaven.” OK, I hadn’t heard from my father since his passing (unlike Harold McCoy who “showed” up only a month later), and now he wants me to help mom. Understandable.
I didn’t think any more about this, I mean, spirit never gives US dates for when things are going to occur, I certainly don’t think I need to drop everything right now. I’ll get to it. 🙂 It was Saturday morning during message work when it seemed as though an angel went, “Transformations.” There was almost a choir chord to accompany it. My mom was attending mass religiously (pardon the pun), and I am sure she would like me to attend also, and I have on several occasions (OK, one), but as much as I adore the Catholic Church, it doesn’t fill me. Maybe the Sisters of Saint Joseph would have a solution for me (us). I went to the website, and looked through the programs which mostly seemed to involve getting in touch with your intuitive self (how can that be?). They were having a week long retreat that started on Monday and ran until Friday while staying on-site. I’m sure that would have been extremely beneficial to her, but didn’t think there would be any way I could get her to go to that outside of a blindfolded momnapping. Then I saw, “Orientation for Spiritual Directions” starting on Wednesday. I wasn’t really sure what it would be about, but I thought, hey, I could resemble a good Catholic for the two hours it would take my mom to totally immerse herself in the culture there. I would even go through the class process. I’m too old to be afraid of the Sisters at this point, and I’m not fertile so the whole birth control issue is off the table. Shoot-I can not only be a good Catholic now, I can be a great one! I called my mom and asked if she would like to go. Of course, she would go anywhere with me. I told her, “I’d been looking for something for us to do together, and this seems so us!” OK, so I wasn’t ACTIVELY looking, but I was open to possibilities. Phone call took less than five minutes, a record.
Wednesday, I picked her up, and we drove the 40 minutes giving my mom ample time spill out all her news which I so desperately need to know. I didn’t interrupt, just gave an occasional “uh-huh.” This never was a dialog situation, anyway. The family has learned over the years not to respond in a meaningful way to her monologues, or even to move unnecessarily. Witness:
Mom: “I see you are standing close to your father’s complete taped set of ‘The War Years.’ Do you want that because I’ll box them up for you to take home, and while I’m at it, I just add grandmother’s hand-crocheted toilet paper cozy. I noticed you were close to that, too.” (Mom, I was in the bathroom.)
She’s gotten more cunning over the years to actually seek out engagement from us. Witness:
Mom: “Do you like broccoli?”
Target: “Um, er, yeah, kinda.”
Mom: “Do you like rice?”
Target: “mmm, yeah.”
Mom: “What about blueberries? Do you like blueberries?”
Target: “I like blueberries.”
Mom: “Great! We’re having broccoli-rice-blueberry casserole for dinner!”
We turned the corner on to Gull Road and continued until we saw the stonewall surrounding the grounds. Turning into the campus there was another choir chord. The grounds were well groomed and the roadway led up to a tall statue of Jesus. My first impression was, and I kid you not, “This in Camp Chesterfield with nuns!” (Camp Chesterfield is a spiritualist camp by Anderson, Indiana.) There was ample parking; in fact, the parking lot was empty. I was hoping we weren’t the only ones attending. We were told to come through the pillared main entrance. (OK, well, this was a tad more regal than Camp Chesterfield.) We went to the office and said that we were there for the class. From there we were directed to go downstairs, and there would be a room marked for us. We roamed through the long statued hallway, down the elevator to the classrooms in the basement. As we entered the classroom, there was no one else there. Were we being punished? Would there be a closed-door session? We sat in the chairs around a table, and waited nervously for the others to arrive. Soon we were joined by four other women and two Sisters.
Sister 1 explained that in order to get the orientation done in two hours, we would be splitting up into two groups. We didn’t even understand the procedure, and already we were to be divided into “focus groups.” She went on to describe the procedure:
- The group begins with silent reflection. Then the facilitator reads a short passage of scripture and asks one or two questions to stimulate further reflection.
- A brief period of silence follows after which the facilitator declares the session open for “rounds.”
- Whoever is ready shares how the scripture or questions speak to his/her personal experience.
- The round continues with each of the others in the group responding, in turn, with their perceptions of how the Spirit was manifest in what the first person shared. Quiet prayer for the first speaker closes the round.
- This same procedure is followed until all have shared their story.
- The session closes as it began, in silence-giving participants time to review what they have experienced and to identify a direction for themselves before they leave and also a focus for their prayer for the others in the group.
The guidelines are few. The fundamental requirement is that participants must have a sincere desire to experience God more fully in their life. In addition, they are asked to:
- Make a commitment to support one another in the desire to experience God more fully
- Be committed to praying for one another
- Be consistent in some regular, personal spiritual practice (such as daily prayer, meditation, worship, etc.)
- Be considerate about time
- Talk about how they experience God–not their religious beliefs
- Listen respectfully to one another
- Hold in reverence and confidence what is said in the group
Mmmmmmm this would require my mother to do two things she wasn’t accustom to doing—sitting in silence and—giving feedback, NOT advice. Oh, and there was also that little thing about not blabbing everything to the next person you saw. However, if she can just give herself the chance, she will be able to experience God, not just regurgitate dogma, and find within herself—herself. I know there’s a gem in there, I’d just like to see it more often.
For me, it was a spiritual development class with different vocabulary. We are required to give messages from spirit (see Guideline 4). The Sister stated this several times with a hand motion coming from her heart (chakra) out. I use the same motion only I draw it down from heaven and out through the heart. When they asked how we came to this class, I said, “An Angel told me this was something for my mom and me.” This was embraced by the group rather than condemned. We were never asked about what church we attended or how often. I did tell our group that it seemed that this path and the path I was on were similar and that exploring it through the origins of the Catholic Church would be fascinating. Who knew? I never had an experience like this going to mass, and indeed, it harkens back to the times when most spiritual work was done clandestinely. We were in a basement, holding a small meeting, where we were not allowed to share what went on in the meeting. It was like a Catholic splinter group where I could (almost) legally practice spiritually.
I’m in. My mom is in because as she says she’s here because I’m here. Whatever. For two hours every other week we’ll sit in silent reverence, and she will be forced to “develop.” Not a bad thing.
As I dropped her off at her house, I didn’t feel emotionally drained as I usually am after a visit. She remarked about how calm she felt (!). At that moment I received one last message from spirit— “Spiritual Xanax,” I said.