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Exploring the Wisdom of My Spiritual Teachers: A Personal Journey

Rain is a doorway into silence and reflection and today this reflection led me to remember those who have touched me in deep and meaningful ways. There are many, too many to name in a short blog post, and for all of them I am grateful. Here are the ones who came to me this evening, their wisdom so embedded in me.

I learned my prayers from my mother. She taught me how to do the sign of the cross, and a prayer to my guardian angel. From my mother I must have learned to say grace before my meal, to bless the way every time I left for school. I also learned a bedtime prayer to "San Jorge Bendito" (Blessed St. George) who was supposed to take care of all insects that could crawl on us at night so they would not bite us. Don't be surprised, the town where my family is from is known for crawling scorpios and other creatures. I do not remember how and when I learned all this, but I am sure my mom was my first Spiritual Teacher.

However, I have a gif like memory of my grandmother teaching me to pray the rosary. I was a six year old restless girl and my grandmother did not always appreciate my restlessness. She still managed to teach me how to pray the rosary. I guess she noticed an inclination to spiritual things at a young age in me, one perhaps not present in my siblings. Her teachings turned out to be very helpful when I was asked to lead the praying of the rosary during our neighborhood posadas during the Christmas season.

As a teenager, I found refuge in my local church. Father Carlos Octavio Torres was the priest at the small Santa Cruz chapel in Tijuana. Here, I led catechism classes, Bible study classes, joined the choir, and led the youth group. It was during these years that I experienced, deeply, the presence of G-d, in my life.

Life did not come without challenges, my spiritual journey will be the topic of another post, but after moving to the United States my spiritual teachers have been many. All of them continue to inform my spirituality:

Anthony Pinn- a humanist UU theologian. From Pinn I learned to understand and see each person's life as sacred text. In Spiritual Direction, the life's journey of a person is the sacred route of their search for meaning, belonging, and connection to something greater than the individual.

Thich Nhat Hahn - Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk. From him I learned the importance of breath and presence. To move through the world with mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hahn was the first one to invite in me curiosity about my shadow side with his poem "Call Me by My True Names"

John O'Donohue - Irish Poet and Mystic - John O'Donohue created a bridge between the natural world and its beauty, which I already loved, with a sprinkle of the mysticism that comes from the Catholic tradition.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés - A congregant, who was herself a spiritual director and ordained minister, lent me a copy of the book "Untie the Strong Woman". This book came many years after I had left the Catholic church. I opened it hesitantly and then became immersed in Dr. Estés storytelling and writing. This book gave me the opportunity to understand, from a different perspective, and to reclaim the image of the virgin Mother Mary, the Divine Mother.

I have learned from so many others:

Poetry is mystical, and poets have been an entryway to the Mystery of the Divine for me.

I have learned from the Mystics. No matter the tradition, I have found that most mystics use a language that I experience as more universal. Often times, it is poetic language because the descriptive language we have is not enough to capture the experience of touching, even if briefly, the Mystery of Life, the Divine, God.

But I have also learned from Life itself, especially when things took unexpected turns and when they did not go the way I wanted. I have learned from loss and heartbreak but also, and especially, from love and tenderness. I have learned from friends and from strangers. I have learned from the joy of community and from the dying.

And I have learned from trees, from the ocean, from animals, from fellow humans, from children. I have learned from soil, and wind, and fire. I have learned from water.

I honor the knowledge and wisdom of all who have guided me, who have shown me the way, who have cared for me and loved me. I am grateful for their remnants of wisdom that have patched me into being.

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