|Photo by me from Austin, TX|
When I was in middle school I starting building a rock collection. I was in love with the color and texture that came out of the Earth. The unique beauty of each individual mineral was fascinating to me.
Also at this time I would often spend afternoons at the local library day dreaming my way through piles of books. I ended up in the "New Age/Occult" section while searching for images of crystals and discovered the notion of alternative spirituality. Falling into a discussion of energy healing and experiences of a myriad of spiritual dimensions and practices spoke to the part of my psyche that was hungry for a vision of the world that included and normalized the kind of energetic sensitivity I had always been open to.
The stories in these books affirmed for me the validity of my emphatic feeling nature. I loved to say Im the kind of person what can feel through walls. It was an experience I kept private as it was dismissed as "imaginary" by the dominant culture of the adult world around me. For years this remained an insular conversation between myself and a few select friends and the authors I could dig out of libraries and other book stores, which were the only options available to me in these pre-internet times.
I found my first spiritual teacher during my senior year of college at Rutgers University. My mother suggested we attend an afternoon workshop on Feng Shui. The woman running the class, SuZen Ravenheart, walked us through the basic concepts of this ancient art of working with the energy of a place in a grounded and clear way. When the lecture was over my mom found out that SuZen was in need of a office assistant in her Feng Shui shop. For the next 2 years I followed Suzen to all kinds of healing ceremonies, sacred rituals and even received training from her as a Reiki Master Teacher. I learned to see under the veneer of modern life in New Jersey into the complex and beautiful layers of spiritual communities that were thriving all around me.
Suzen was a wonderful mentor in learning how to navigate cultural activities in a respectful and open manner. She taught me how to meet the unknown part of myself in prayer, release what was no longer serving my spiritual development and claim the power of my own voice.