Returning to My Roots

Today, I celebrate the birthday of a child I once knew, now a young woman. I gave her the gift of a rosary to mark this occasion. This particular rosary contains a relic from the Chapelle of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, where Mary appeared to St Catherine Laboure and asked that a medal of her image be struck.

In this year of many changes, but really, in the year or so prior to this one - I found myself drifting back to spiritual practices that had nourished me in my youth and young adulthood - such as the saying of rosaries, novenas, and so forth...

While in the last several decades I immersed myself in the study of Buddhism, Hinduism and Tantra, and Judaism in the decade before that - I never veered too far from what a dear friend once referred to as my "default setting."

As a theologian and educator for nearly twenty-five years, I was blessed with the opportunity to teach comparative religions - a subject near and dear to my heart. When in Rome - I do as the Romans - worshipping in churches, temples, and mosques - feeling at home and sensing the Presence of God everywhere I go. Spirituality has always been central to who I am, and I delight in the Unity that is at the heart of all diversity.

And while I have strayed from dogmatic aspects of my tradition - I continue to embrace the rich heritage of spiritual practices, teachings and writings. These are as embedded in me as my own DNA.

This morning I shared a couple of spiritual practices from other traditions with my students - such as Ho'oponopono - a Hawaiian healing technique that aims at cleansing ourselves of erroneous thoughts and actions and which puts us in greater touch with God and our divine nature. I have written about this practice on this blog before.

There is a richness in the practices from diverse traditions - many of which are often similar in nature to our own. When I was in Istanbul last November, I bought a replica of a rosary used by one of the Sultans to recite the 99 names of Allah. I have Buddhist and Hindu malas used for japa - the recitation of mantras or the names of the Divine - and they are quite at home with various Catholic rosaries - of various decades and lengths - from the more traditional to a couple used to commemorate the Seven Sorrows of Mary. I have a couple blessed by saints as well.

Years ago, when I was studying for my doctorate at a Protestant seminary, a minister reminded me that "once a Roman, always a Roman." So - no matter where I have wandered, and how many traditions and practices I have sampled and embodied - my basic relationship to the Divine has not been altered. Instead, it has deepened over the years. When I visited the "home" of Mary the Mother of Jesus in Ephesus last year, I knew she had brought me there on purpose - and in doing so - she brought me "home" to myself as well.

In a very real sense - I have not returned to my roots. I never left them. Institutions may have become less hospitable and left me and others behind - but the root of spirituality is unchanging and is always inside my heart - like a flickering candle that will never go out. No one can - or will take that away from me.


Eddie Bryan said…
I'm homeless and we have a health clinic available to us that uses some church facilities. On Monday while I waited for the opening of the doors for the medical feature of the clinic (it also offers clothes and toiletries) I wandered into the pews of the church, a First Methodist Church of Gainesville, FL. They were giving communion. As a student of many paths, I glossed over all my differences about the blood of the Lamb and just enjoyed the beautiful interior and nice people present in the church. It was good to get over disagreement. I took communion, for what it was worth.
Sadgurunath Maharaj ki jay!
Olga Rasmussen said…
Hi Eddie,

I am so glad you followed your heart, and I am sure it was worth a lot! Blessings to you, Olga

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