I am in the midst of Spring Break. A much needed and much deserved holiday from teaching English to 110 teenagers. I am enjoying the luxury of time to finish reading half-finished books and to write blogs about the books I have finished. It is also nearing the end of the season of Lent, a season for looking closely at yourself and seeing where you want to go. For Lent this year my Church is reading Thomas Moore’s book A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World. I was skeptical about what I would get out of this book, yet it surprised me in so many ways! This book was just the boost I needed during Lent to look at my own personal religion and where I am going. I am constantly looking to expand my understanding of the universe and be more open to the mysteries in life.
The ideas that Moore presents are simple and at times obvious, yet in his psychotherapist’s way of cutting to the essence, he is able to put into words what my jumbled thoughts continue to spin around. Some of his ideas brought me clarity to some of my own personal situations, and some of his ideas were new and challenging to me.
For years I have thought about keeping a dream journal. At times I have vivid dreams and remember them for days, and at times I can’t remember my dreams past brushing my teeth in the morning. So one of the things I am inspired to try is to keep a dream journal.
While reading On Thin Ice by Jamie Bastedo, I realized the importance of dreams and the role they play in helping us understand who we are and where we are going. Bastedo’s main character is able to find herself in her dreams, especially when she draws and shares her dreams. She realizes that her connection to her Inuit heritage and her family are most pronounced through her dreams and they allow her to gain the confidence to explore a new way of seeing her world. They are mysterious, bizarre, scary, and baffling. Yet, I can see the power of writing them down.
Lately, as I have been outside enjoying nature, I can’t help but think of the teachings of the First Nations cultures that originally lived on the land I love so much. Blackfoot and Cree ways of understanding life are fascinating to me and the more I learn, the more it makes sense to me. The connection between all things on earth and above the earth and the idea that is all about circles adds clarity to my experiences and how I feel about those around me. I am constantly being reminded how everything and everyone are connected and this idea fits so well with the Medicine Wheel. This pull to the medicine wheel also explains my connection to walking labyrinths.
I like to be challenged and engaged intellectually, and Moore’s book caused me to pause, reflect, question, and observe closely. At the end of his book, Moore creates a list and I love lists. It is a great list! (Pg 270-72)
1.) Redefine traditional terms and ideas.
-Reinvent, redefine, reimagine.
2.) Don’t be too literal about community.
-Community includes beings, nature and objects. “Remember the paradox: Local community works best when you are mindful of the earth and cosmic community, and vice versa.” (Pg 270)
3.) Feel that you have a right to learn from and practice anything from the world’s spiritual and religious traditions.
-Learn from other traditions and be open to how they fit into your life.
4.) Understand that many things, if not everything, that are usually considered secular are sacred, if you have the eyes to see it.
– See the sacred in all secular activities.
5.) Be a mystic in your own ways.
-Nature. Art. Find some ways to have mystical and mysterious experiences.
6.) Don’t think of ethics and morality as a list of things you shouldn’t do.
-See the positive in your traditions and ideas.
7.) Wisdom, compassion, and method.
-Find virtues that speak to you and that allow you to fully live life.
8.) Use the arts for your spiritual education and welfare.
-See and spend time with the arts.
9.) Be intelligent about everything involved in your spirituality.
-Question everything and be willing to listen.
10.) Embrace eros; don’t be afraid of it.
-Follow desires and pleasure to create joy and bliss. Be open to new creative possibilities in life.
Although I have little knowledge of other religions, I can see the importance of learning from other traditions. Being in Canada, I think that it is easy to get connected to the traditions of different First Nations, yet I am challenged to explore the traditions of others more closely.
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.” (Romans 12:9)
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” (Buddha)
“Our Creator put us here on earth. He gave us different languages to use. He put us here to love and respect each other.”
“óta askihk ki-mámawohtáwimáw ka-kí-ohséhikowak, ka-sákihitowak mina ta-kistéyiméhtowak. ki-kí-miyikowésiwinaw pá-pitos-píkiskwéwina ta-áyamihitowak.” (John Mosquito, Nekaneet First Nation)