Soul Contracts and Forgiveness

This article is Part 2 in a series prompted by my second Saturn return and reflections on a painful turning point in my life. In Part 1: Defining Moments, or “How I Lost God and Found My Way” I tell the story of leaving behind the religion of my family lineage to set forth on a solo quest for Truth.

To recap: I was 12 years old when I broke the news to my mother that I didn’t believe in Judaism. At that age, I didn’t have the inner resources to deal with the conflict that followed. I was too afraid to stand up to my mother’s authority when she told me, “You’re too young to know what you think”. This statement hurt me deeply, and in an unconscious attempt to protect myself, I shut down. I held on to my hurt and anger for a very long time, and I saw myself as a victim in this scenario. Now I’m taking a new look at my old story.

Part 2: Soul Contracts and Forgivenesssaturn_1509887c

The first glimmering of forgiveness toward my mother came when I began studying astrology. One day, I read about Saturn in Sagittarius (which is where Saturn is in my birth chart). The astrology book said, “People with Saturn in Sagittarius are often born into a family with a dogmatic religious orientation. They need to learn to find their own spiritual path.” I suddenly saw my rejection of Judaism and my conflict with my mother from a cosmic perspective. I saw that it had all been perfectly designed by a higher intelligence for the benefit of my spiritual evolution.

From this perspective, my painful experience was not my mother’s fault. It wasn’t Judaism’s fault. It wasn’t my fault. In fact, it wasn’t a “fault” or a mistake or even a problem. As Byron Katie says, “Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon, nor too late. You don’t have to like it…it’s just easier if you do.”

Astrology taught me that my deeply personal story (being born into a conservative religious family, longing to be close to God, becoming disillusioned, and setting off to find my way, alone) was also the archetypal story of Saturn in Sagittarius’ quest for Truth. I knew intuitively that having Saturn in Sag. was no coincidence. I saw that my soul chose to come into this religious family for a reason. My religious upbringing gave me something to push against, Saturn wall quotewhich gave me the impetus to start searching for another way…a way that would truly feed my spiritual hunger…a way better designed to wake me up…a way that I would need to forge, myself, without an outer authority telling me what to believe or how to express my spirituality.

When I realized that my painful experience had a higher purpose and that on some level I had chosen this experience, it became clear to me that my parents were simply playing the roles assigned to them. They were not against me, they were actually FOR my spiritual evolution (although they weren’t aware of this, consciously). We were all in cahoots in creating and enacting this drama. It was a soul contract between us, and we’d played our parts perfectly. How could there be any blame?

opening door w sunNow there was a huge crack in the solidified and entrenched belief that I was a victim. Through that crack, the light of forgiveness began to filter into my mind. I wish I could tell you that this first light of forgiveness completely dissolved my long-held anger and resentment. Over the years, I’ve worked with forgiveness lessons from A Course in Miracles and The Way of Mastery, I’ve taught others about forgiveness (we teach what we’re learning), and I’ve worked on this with The Work of Byron Katie. I’ve been in psychotherapy and even did a mother-daughter workshop with my Mom, many years ago. All of these things have been helpful, and I still have some forgiving yet to do. For me, forgiveness is many-layered, and I’m still in process.

Understanding that things don’t just happen to us, randomly, and that we have soul contracts with the major players in our lives, helps me accept and value my challenging relationships. I’m curious how this notion of “soul contracts” sits with you. Does it ring true for you, at an intuitive level? Does it affect your ability to forgive? Please leave a comment, below.

Writing this series of articles has prompted me to go deeply within and continue working with my forgiveness process. Click here for Part 3: Four Dimensions of Forgiveness

Click here for Part 4: How I Came Back to God


Defining Moments, or “How I Lost God and Found My Way”

As I sit here at my second Saturn return, I’m doing some life-review. This article is Part 1 in a series prompted by my reflections on a painful turning p0int in my life and my deepening understanding of the nature of Saturn, how it shows up in the sign of Sagittarius, and the gifts of the second Saturn return.

I’m looking at some of the defining moments in my life. Defining moments are not always joyful and triumphant. The greatest realizations are often hard-won, and their full meaning is often seen only in hindsight. Can I share one of my defining moments with you? It’s a story I’ve told time and time again, but now I see it from a broader perspective. This is the story of an excruciating moment that turned out to be the moment I was set free. I set myself free to follow my own path, claim my inner knowing, and find the Truth for myself. Here’s the story of How I Lost God and Found My Way.Torah

My hunger for spiritual experience started to surface when I was 11 years old. That summer, I went to sleep-away camp. It wasn’t your average camp with swimming lessons, Capture-the-Flag, and bunk beds. We did have all those things, but we also learned Hebrew, celebrated Shabbat, and fortified our Jewish identity. By the end of the summer, I had an intense desire to be more religious. If I did it all just right, I’d earn God’s approval. Or so I hoped.

During my second summer at camp, I had a profound experience. As I sat quietly by the lake, immersed in nature,lake I felt a sense of connection to something greater, something deeply peaceful  and vastly beautiful…something that can’t be confined within the walls of a synagogue, nor bound to ancient symbols on parchment, nor limited to a particular religion. It was a glorious feeling…connecting with the Divine through nature. By contrast, following all the rules and performing all the religious rituals had left me feeling rigid and empty. I fell tumbling into a well of disillusionment about Judaism and the notion of God as the angry father.

At the end of that summer, I gathered up my courage and broke the news to my mother:  “I don’t believe in Judaism, and I don’t believe in God.” My mother reacted with an anger that shocked me. “How can you not believe in God?” she yelled. “lock 3You’re too young to know what you think!” I felt deeply hurt and angered by her dismissive, authoritarian reaction. Knowing that my father would be even less receptive to this news, I decided never to expose my precious awakenings to them, again. Door slammed. Locked shut.

In that defining moment, I abandoned my religious heritage and set path in desertmyself on a solo journey guided only by my inner compass. It was a huge, lonely step for a 12 year old. This turning point separated me from my family. Yet it aligned me with my soul’s desire for direct spiritual experience and led me on a quest to find The Truth.

My circuitous path took me from Judaism to atheism to studies of Buddhist philosophy. At another twist in the road, I met Jesus (a life-changing experience, which is a story in itself). That opened the door to A Course in Miracles and other non-dual teachings, which led to a major awakening in 2013. Through years of seeking, I came to find my True Nature.

As I look back from today’s vantage point, I see that I had to find my own way. I had to leave the confines of traditional religion and the limiting perspectives of outer authorities in order to find the Divine, in my own direct experience. What about you? What painful, messy, tragic moments in your life have made you who you are? What dark nights of the soul have propelled you to grow and evolve?  What financial disasters, failed relationships, or bad career moves might you choose to look at from a new perspective? Take some time, look deeply, and consider the strength and wisdom formed in the crucible of your mistakes, your losses, and your disappointments.

(Click here for Part 2: Soul Contracts and Forgiveness)

(Click her for Part 3: Four Dimensions of Forgiveness)

(Click here for Part 4: How I Came Back to God)


The Call of My Soul: Go to Nepal

In the spring of 2013, my soul called me to make a big life change. It began with subtle promptings and intuitions, which I followed like invisible threads that drew me irresistibly onto a radically new path (read more). I moved across the country to take root in the Land of Enchantment. Here, my work took on a new clarity and focus…helping others to heed their souls’ callings. Of course I continue to listen to what my own soul has to say, and most recently I got the call to go to Nepal.

Soul callOur souls call to us all the time. The call may come in big, earth-shattering moments of upheaval in one’s home-life, relationships, health, finances, or career. It may show up as a crossroads in your life…a time when you feel pushed to make a momentous decision. Sometimes it seems but a faint whisper, and other times, a loud and insistent voice demanding change. As Bill Plotkin says in his book Soulcraft, “Soul embraces and calls us toward what is most unique in us.” I would add that soul calls us to embody the essence of our unique self in ways that are more and more highly evolved. It is an ongoing process…a creative, evolutionary process.

When I recently came upon the following quote in Soulcraft, I had to smile at the synchronicity: “The pull toward soul feels like an earthquake in the midst of your life.” In my case, it was an actual earthquake. IMG_0161The April 25, 2015 earthquake that shook Nepal cracked open some unknown place in my heart. No other natural disaster has moved me so deeply. I wept for the loss of lives, the homes reduced to rubble, and the suffering of survivors who were receiving no aid. I looked around at the incredible abundance in my life…a stable, peaceful home; delicious food; good health; and the exquisite beauty of a magical Taos spring. At first, I felt guilty experiencing so many pleasures while thousands of people in Nepal were hungry and homeless. Then I began helping as best I could. I started donating money to the relief efforts, and I sent waves of deep peace and calm to the people in Nepal, knowing that we are all interconnected.village kids

One reason the earthquake shook me up is because I have a friend in Nepal, Dhwoj Gurung, an amazing plein air watercolor painter. Fortunately he was unharmed during the quake. Called into action by his soul, Dhowj made heroic efforts to bring food, medical supplies, tents, and tarps to his ancestral village, near the epicenter of the earthquake. The village is very remote, roads were blocked by landslides, and no relief was being dispatched by the government nor any of the large aid organizations such as Red Cross. So, my friend took it in his own hands to come to the aid of his community. What he discovered when he arrived was the destruction of all the homes, eighteen people had lost their lives, and twenty more had serious injuries.village 3

While the quake and its impact on me were totally unexpected, I can look back and clearly see that my soul had been sending me messages since the beginning of this year. The first hint came from my experience re-reading Autobiography of a Yogi. Every time the Himalayas were mentioned, the word seemed to leap off the page and pull on a forgotten cord in my heart. It seemed I had always dreamed of going to the Himalayas, but it was a dream ignored. Then, I met Dhwoj, online. Seeing his gorgeous paintings and photographs of Nepal and her people, the ancient dream woke up within me. It dawned on me that I’m not getting any younger. Best to go hiking in the Himalayas while I still can!

On the New Moon, April 18, 2015, I wrote in my journal: “I now set the intention to go to Nepal in 2016”.  I told Dhwoj I wanted to come and trek, and he offered to be my guide. 2016 seemed perfect…it would provide a reasonable length of time in which to strengthen the foundation of my business and generate sufficient funds for the trip. One week later, the earth shook and my plan was replaced by God’s plan.

A few weeks after the earthquake, Dhwoj was back in Kathmandu, having led several relief missions to his village. He called and asked me to come to Nepal, not in 2016, but this coming fall, to help his community. He wasn’t asking me to come and rebuild houses, he was asking me to help with the process of emotional recovery.Without hesitation, I said, “Yes, I will come.”Rescue_teams_reach_communities_in_earthquake-hit,_Chautara,_Nepal.kids

I will leave my coaching and astrology practice for two months to volunteer my time facilitating Creative Movement and other Therapeutic Arts Activities in Ghyachchok village. Upon my return, I will need to get the momentum of my business going again. There are many unknowns about the project in Nepal and how it may influence my life, going forward. When I feel anxious I remember this  quote from Fritz Perls: “Anxiety is excitement without the breath”.  And so, I breathe! And I am so excited!

I feel called as if into an initiation, the exact nature of which is a mystery. I know I will not be the same when I return. And I sense that my work will not be completely the same either. My astrological transit chart for the fall has ‘ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME’ written all over it. My soul is calling, and my answer is “Yes!”

How is YOUR soul calling you to move forward with your evolution? How will you answer?

Get support for your soul journey. Schedule a session, now, and you will also support my offerings in Nepal. 

Photo credits:
First two photos of Nepal by Dhwoj Gurung   (1) smiling kids; (2) damaged house
Bottom photo of kids in Nepal by Jessica Lea/DFID