By Tanya Tiger
Not all who wander are lost. ~J.R.R. Tolkien
For some, a spiritual home comes easily. They settle into whichever religion or spiritual path was laid before them by their family, community, or culture. They assimilate without question and are content knowing that their path is the right one for them. My spiritual home has always been elusive.
I am a seeker, a spiritual wanderer.
For as long as I can remember I have questioned, resisted and doubted every path that has been laid before me, even those of my own choosing.
I was raised Catholic, but could not feel more distant from it if I tried. For me, it is too full of emptiness, pomp, secrets and shame. I explored Wicca for a time and it remains very close to my heart.
Wicca—as free and loving as it is—was still too “in the box” for me. While I definitely lean toward the Old Religions and Beliefs, like the pagan and heathen ways of thinking and doing, Wicca was not quite right. It became like a favorite shirt that no longer fit but I didn’t have the heart to throw away, so I tucked it in my bottom drawer and still look at it from time to time.
I sat with Buddhism for a while but my soul was too restless.
I felt more restricted and less connected, even though I found it to be a loving and gentle path. I took a peek at the multiple faces and facets of the Gods and Goddesses of India. They were beautiful and amazing and yet none felt like home to me. I continued to wander and seek. I would come and go on each path as if it were merely a phase.
I even remember people rolling their eyes as I explained my latest and greatest adventures in the world of religion.
I would fall in love with a path overnight and just as quickly burn out and let it fade away. I felt this deep ache. There was a longing to find a home for my soul, somewhere it would feel safe and comforted. At every turn I felt like a vagabond knocking on doors that would not open or would open a crack to then slam in my face.
I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I began to wonder if I had offended the “Powers That Be” by jumping on and off of these varying paths. Sometimes I would imagine Jesus and Buddha sitting together shaking their heads and wagging their fingers at me. I could almost hear the “Tsk Tsk” in my head.
I would see people coming and going from religious temples and churches. They had smiles on their faces and would hug one another like some sort of club that I was forbidden to join. For someone who already suffered from low self-esteem, to be rejected by the Divine and their followers felt like a knife in my heart. I wondered if I was too picky, too stubborn, too undeserving of Divine Grace.
I went so far as to look to the Dark One, the one that Christians call “Devil” or “Satan.” I was surprised to find that even in its home I was turned away by an invisible force. You see, it wasn’t that the “Powers That Be” slammed their doors, or even their followers, it was as if I was in some sort of spiritual bubble that would not allow the energies to flow to me or from me. An invisible force field existed between me and every religious and spiritual path with which I tried to engage.
This confusing, soul-stretching, and painful existential journey went on for most of my life. I would joke that if I ever stepped foot in a church again I would burst into flames. I would tell people that I was a witch just to get a rise out of them. After a while it became like a game to me. If I wasn’t accepted into the fold then I would shake things up a bit.
I continued questioning and challenging people about their beliefs.
I only succeeded in isolating myself further and was left feeling excruciating guilt after my attempts. In hindsight, it was stupid and selfish. I was so lost in my own pain that I didn’t care I might be hurting others. I stopped trying to “un-convert” people and went back to meandering in and out of my very own spiritual purgatory.
I’m not really sure when things changed for I realize now, looking back, that on more than one occasion I went for the jugular because I wanted someone to feel the spiritual pain and emptiness that I felt. I thought that if I could get them to see how “blindly” they were following their prescribed path then they would join me on the journey of searching.
Maybe it was the day I saw the bumper sticker: “Not all who wander are lost.”
Maybe it was the day I heard someone speak about Jesus as “just a cool hippie dude that wandered around helping people and wasn’t crazy about ‘The Man’ bringing everyone else down.” Maybe it is when I saw a smiling Buddha and realized that he was a seeker like me. When Buddha’s prescribed beliefs no longer fit him he created his own spiritual home, it got me thinking. Again, I’m not sure when it finally dawned on me that spirituality is not a cookie-cutter, one size fits all, kind of thing.
A spiritual path is a very personal path.
Everyone’s path to their spiritual home looks and feels different. With some time I have come to realize that my spiritual home is the journey itself. I am most at home with the “Powers That Be” when I am walking beside them, all of them, and we’re shooting the breeze. My spiritual home is when I’m running through the forest with Freya and Artemis, when I’m sitting quietly and reading with Buddha, when I’m reaching out to those less fortunate with Jesus’s hands, when I’m saving a critter from a brush with death while the Buffalo Woman watches, and when I’m drawing down the moon with the Divine Mother.
They are all my spiritual kin.
Every tree and flower, every rock and drop of rain, everything that walks or slithers the Earth…we’re all wanders in our own right. I am at home on the spiritual road—a hitchhiker among the stars. I rest my head wherever and whenever, now knowing that it’s all the same where it really counts.
Yes, I wander but I am not lost. The journey itself is my home sweet home.
Editor: Daniel Scharpenburg