I have always been directionally challenged, and I’m thankful for this because twice when I was lost, I found something sacred.
Many years ago, I took a year off from nursing and lived in Great Britain. While touring France, I lost my way and somehow found myself in the Taize Community. It was near Easter time, and I stayed for a week in a loving, spiritual community surrounded by the beautiful Taize music one often hears at West Hills Friends.
Another “getting lost experience” profoundly changed my life. I was 35 years old and living in Chico, California. It was a difficult time. My life felt shattered and broken and I needed to change. I’d recently had a vivid dream of waking up in the middle of the night and seeing a shadow of myself hanging in the closet. This shadow self had a rope around her neck and was dead. I wasn’t frightened by this vision. Surprisingly, I felt joyful because, to me, the dream represented the possibility of the dying of the old, small self to make room for a newer Self to emerge. So, a few days later, off I went to Chico University to attend Pacific Yearly Meeting. I was ready to do some real soul searching to change my life because what I was doing wasn’t working. I was seeking spiritual help and guidance.
It was good to be among Friends at Pacific Yearly Meeting. One morning after breakfast, I walked down several hallways looking for the worship-sharing group on anger management that I had signed up for. Thinking I’d found the right room, I walked in and sat down in a vacant chair in a circle where about six people were gathered. We sat in silence for what seemed the longest time, and I wondered why no one spoke about anger management. Finally, it dawned on me that I had wandered into the wrong room! By then, it was too late to do anything about it, but I was beginning to feel peaceful in that room, so I just settled into the silence and lost all track of time. Gradually, I became aware of this light shining through me and an incredible loving Presence holding me. Tears streamed down my face as I realized God was there and loving me even with all my flaws. I was in the right place; an inward, sacred space where God’s healing love was flowing through me.
Needless to say, this was a mystical, life-altering experience, and it happened in an ordinary classroom in a university, not in a dazzling cathedral or on a mountain top. I was seeing with new eyes and feeling very grateful, alive.
I began to understand the connection between inward spirituality and outward action in the world. I learned in my heart that the ultimate task for me is to try to love others in the same way I know God loves me. I frequently fall short of this task, but I keep trying because of that encounter with God and other glimpses now and again.
— Margie Simmons