Back Alley

shadows.jpgThe idea for Spirit in the Street was born in a hotel meeting room (or maybe it was the hotel bar – it was a long time ago) in Washington DC in 1997. I was attending a Pathways workshop that my cousin insisted would change my life. Three years earlier, my 36-year-old husband and my nine-year-old daughter died after they both suffered through cancer treatments.

My cousin intuitively knew that I needed to be there even though we had not spoken for quite awhile.  She moved mountains to make it happen – the first obstacle was convincing me that it was crucial for me to attend. As with many things that have happened in my life when something needed to happen, the way was paved.  I soon found myself meditating on a floor in a DC hotel room with about 200 other people as we built a weekend tribe.

Toward the end of the weekend, I was having a conversation with another attendee about future plans and I envisioned Spirit in the Street. To really date this conversation, I had in mind a syndicated newspaper column. I wanted to expose spirituality and our connection to the numinous that happens in everyday encounters and is so often missed when we separate the sacred from the profane.

At the time, I was already living with one foot in another world (part of me left with my daughter and husband) and the other foot firmly in this one with my two remaining sons. Spirit in the Street seemed divinely inspired and the fruit of an amazing weekend. I envisioned exploring the intangible connections that each of us have through small seemingly insignificant events in our daily lives. Psychotherapist Carl Jung called it synchronicity – I call it the meeting of the tangible and intangible and we find it in the street.

I returned to my home in the other Washington full of enthusiasm and a strong sense of purpose. I had a renewed commitment to my journalism classes that I had begun when my life had taken such an unexpected turn. It was a prefect opportunity to completely change directions from my office management job and pursue something new – something I truly loved.

Spirit in the Street wasn’t to be ~ at least not at that time. My ten-year-old son became ill two months after my return and it was then that I knew why my cousin had so adamantly insisted that I attend that weekend retreat. Neither of us consciously knew what was coming. But she listened to the insistent message that I needed to attend and I am forever grateful that she convinced me of it also. That weekend infused me with the presence and spirit that I would need to nurture my middle child through two years of cancer treatment only to say goodbye as he joined his father and sister in death. It was a weekend that provided me with strength, heart, and a thread to hold as the thin rope that kept me connected unraveled even further. It was not at all about a newspaper column.

Fast-forward 15 years and here it is – Spirit in the Street. The spark that was born all those years ago still lives and wants expression. I have always had an affinity for philosophy and love to twirl around the ether with grand ideas and unsolvable thoughts. But my life experiences have grounded me in a new way. I always come back to: What is the point of all of this?  What does it mean to be incarnate? The intangible spiritual meanderings (and I have twirled into some interesting places) are meaningless unless they are somehow connected to our very tangible human experience.

Wittgenstein said, “Language is a tailor shop where nothing fits.” Bringing language to that which has no words will be clumsy but I hope it will also be insightful to use words to point to what is out there beyond words.

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