Without dreams of hope and pride a man will die
Though his flesh still moves his heart sleeps in the grave
Without land man never dreams cause he’s not free
All men need a place to live with dignity.
Give me love and understanding, I will thrive.
I start with this lyric from Chuck Mangione’s the Children of Sanchez as it is a song I first heard when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Thirty five years later, it is one of the 400 or so songs on my iPhone that is there because of how it affects me.
My spiritual path is both complex and strikingly simple. My religious beliefs fall outside the major religions. But, at my core, I am a deeply spiritual person and find my life guided by a strong belief in a god and goddess far greater than I am. As such, I find my life influenced by Jesus as it is also influenced by Buddha, Rumi and Seth Godin. At the core of my being are six key traits – skill, spark, savvy, story, strength and spirit.
I was raised in a Dutch Reformed Christian Church until I was 11, when we moved to Vermont and joined the First Congregational Church in Essex. Before we moved to Vermont, my mother worked for a Jewish Community Center in New York, so I attended Jewish day camp every summer. While I was in high school, I had my father take me from Essex to Barnet every day over the course of three days so that I could attend the funeral services for Rinpoche Chogyam Trungpa. In college, I was a member of both Campus Crusade for Christ and the Catholic Newman Club. Wherever I have been active, it has always been the story and the song that drew me there.
My faith and my spirit are not attached to a particular church or religion, but to a deep calling to respect others, respect myself, and to give as I have been given to. It has not been a journey without struggles. Depression. The unexpected death of my father. The equally unexpected death of my mother two weeks later. Without faith and hope and belief in greater good, I would not be here today to write these words.
Today, what moves me is inspiration and hope. Through the eyes of the women I have taught Zumba® Fitness classes to struggling with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, but still there and smiling. Seeing something larger than me, larger than each person making larger goals attainable. Taking part in martial arts classes where there is a physical aspect for sure, but a spiritual, philosophical and ritual underpinning that feed and nourish me. Sharing the photos that I take as a way to reflect the joy, spirit, hope and love that I see and feel in the world.
I do not attend a church or a synagogue. I have no single spiritual guru or guide. What I do have is a deep commitment to living a conscious life, to giving to others to the best of my ability, to sharing in truth and authentic connections. To reflect the spirit that so inspires me – in movement, in song, in words, and in images.
I know this world has beaten you to the bone.
You wanna strike out at the world for dragging you down.
But listen to what I am saying –
The first thing you should know is that you’re not alone.
Somebody’s holding you.
Somebody’s holding your hand;
Somebody’s holding your heart.
(Suzanne Sterling, The River)
My belief is that the world has a place for each of us and all that we have to give. To work on myself – with all my joys, passions and sorrows – and share all that I have to offer is all that I can do each day, and hope that in that Spirit shines through.