Last night I lit candles on my little home altar with the Kuan Yin porcelain statue named “Soothing the Ills of the World.” Truthfully, I was a bit depressed. It’s been only a week today since I found out that breast cancer has returned, this time to my lungs. I’ll feel better when I can see the CT scan itself. Measurements of the largest masses and the information that there are “numerous” masses, doesn’t really tell me what I want to know, need to know. I have trouble with the unknown, I think that’s common to many people.
I had my time being religious, 32 years of it to be exact, but after finding out that child and spouse abuse was rampant in “my” church, I had to step away. Knowing that the lay clergy protected the perps in a good ole boy way turned my stomach. I wondered what it might feel like to a grown woman whose abuser was still a leader in the church that professed to love and support her. Finally, I came face to face with the abuser of a woman I knew, in what was preported to be a very holy place and that ended it for me.
. It was not easy to walk away from my faith after so many years. I spent a lot of time at twilight, walking on the public sidewalk around that holy place, asking God why He allowed it to be desecrated by sinners of the worst kind. God was silent, and finally I decided I had to take care of myself because nobody else seemed interested.
I tried to become a Humanist but that wasn’t a good fit. I not only left my church but my best friends, women I considered the sisters I never had, left me, several under orders from their husband. Apostasy was deemed contagious, and nobody wanted to catch it from me. I was in a dark night for several years. I finally moved away and the pain eased.
Then I went into psychotherapy for some discovered childhood trauma of my own. In the process of recovery, I realized that being without a spiritual practice had make my life unbalanced. But what would work for me since I felt betrayed by my previously chosen religion?
I just kept hearing the words “go within,” “look within,” “listen to the inner voice” and so I began to meditate in silence, focusing only on my breath, in and out. I reached deep, where it was very still, and I began to get impressions, answers to questions that I had not yet framed, encouragement to stretch my creativity in new directions, and a form of peace that I have never been able to put into words then or since.
I began creating small altars, one at a time, in my home. They are like poems or paintings. My impression of a question of a spiritual nature, embodied in a physical structure not unlike sculpture, or collage. These altars give me a focus for meditation as well as a creative outlet. They have become a light shining out of the darkness to guide my way.