This year I celebrated the 30th Anniversary of my Calling. While this is a story I’ve shared before audiences of true believers and benevolent skeptics with donuts and orange juice in the back of old church halls. This month was the first time I chose to share this story as deeply as I feel it, hoping that it resonates with folks who are currently answering a calling that matters to them. I recognize myself in each of them, hoping they are better prepared than I was, but grateful for the lessons I had to learn the hard way.
This Origin Story is deeply embedded in my heart. Enjoy!
Edited from original published at #OneHeartOneEarth
The vision on a crowded hill
The clouds were sparse on Apparition Hill (Podbrdo) that night. It was a clear, summer’s eve, a handful of days after the Summer Solstice. It was also the 9th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina) to six local children. Back when it was still a Communist country. But on June 25, 1990, I climbed that hill with hundreds of thousands of others. All with the hope of catching a glimpse of the divine.
I was a 12-year-old girl from Colorado, praying with thousands of others, longing for the proximity to one of Mary’s visionaries, Ivan Dragicevic, as he led his rosary group. Murmurs of prayers could be heard in dozens of languages on the hill that night. The power of that moment was undeniably pure. Humans from all over the globe gathered in a moment of peace, of hope, of love, brought together by Our Lady. Miracles of faith witnessed in the everyday kindness we offered to each other amongst the sharp stones and pitch-black shadows. We removed barriers so everyone could witness this event.
But others didn’t see what I did that night. I saw the cross marking the spot of the first apparition disappears from the landscape. I saw the stars glow brighter, suddenly free of the haze of pollution. I saw the hands of Our Lady, gold sleeves slowly coming into view. I saw her hands outstretched before me, open and inviting. Her hands motioned over the crowd in blessing. And even though someone stood up in front of me, interrupting the vision, I was able to get them to sit long enough for me to see the stars move from the heavens to form a cross of gentle, magnificent light. Time stood still and moved too fast all at the same time. I was dumbfounded, moved to tears, overthinking as I always did. I didn’t want to believe what had just happened. I wasn’t worthy. I blurted the whole thing out in short, sobbing sentences to my mom as the group continued the rosary.
When they announced that she was wearing a gown of golden light, in celebration of her anniversary there, I knew. When they announced she gave a very special blessing to the crowd gathered there that night – that we were being asked to give her blessing to others, I knew. When they announced that she departed in a cross of light, not only did I know, but then my mom understood as well. When they confirmed everything that I saw…I knew but didn’t want to believe. I knew I was being called to something bigger than myself. I knew I would never be the same person ever again.
And then I came home…
What I really needed in that first year was a welcome packet for “How to Be a Catholic Visionary”. Even though I saw the hands of Mary, it didn’t mean I knew what it meant or what to do with it. I had nothing to anchor myself when others tried to use me to push their agenda. At twelve years old, in 7th grade, I was piecing this together for myself.
Little old ladies were thrusting me to the front of their rosary groups, giving me uncomfortable importance that I felt was entirely unearned. I was embarrassed as they lined up for me to lay hands on them. Is that something I was even supposed to be doing? Is that really what was asked of me? The more they expected of me, begging for favors for themselves while sharing judgmental comments behind my back, it placed an inhibiting spotlight on me that made me even more self-conscious and doubtful of myself.
The pressure for perfection became nearly synonymous with my calling in those first two years. My imperfections seemed to be an indictment of my unworthiness. Not only was I exploding with hormones as an adolescent, but I felt like I was being watched for any minor mistake, rosary-laden ladies waiting for me to fail so they could feel better about their own faith. So I made mistakes on purpose – offering them larger concerns than the micromanagement of my life that would fuel my anxiety for years to come.
The closest thing I had to a true compass in those early years, besides my parents, was a visit by Fr. Rene Laurentin, a Catholic priest giving a talk in town about the scientific testing he’s done on the Medjugorje visionaries. The organizers made sure I was invited to a private dinner with him, a not-so-subtle hope that he would validate my vision. I dreaded it. Despite my stated wishes, the ladies pushed the issue and he asked to hear my story.
It dribbled out like an apology, anticipating his rejection. Each sentence was dripping with, “I know you think I’m crazy, which is totally okay, I probably am.” He listened quietly as his translator relayed the message. I searched his face for the doubt, the denial of the authenticity of the vision. Instead, he relayed a story of other children my age all across the world who have had similar visions. One only saw Our Lady’s eyes, another saw her feet. In fact, these “partial” visions were more common than I had known.
“Mary’s is asking whether you will serve as her Hands here on earth. Do you accept, child?” he said in all seriousness.
Even as I relay this story, thirty years wiser, my eyes are filling with tears of blissful joy. Because I finally had a purpose. All of this doubt, all of these signs were for a reason. I wouldn’t need anything else ever in my life. Just this. I only wanted to live a life of service to the Divine. At that moment, in the middle of a steakhouse, I smelled roses. This was Mary asking me to serve as her hands through this wizened French priest.
A calling requires consent
My first awakening wasn’t the vision itself, so much as the divine purpose attached to it. Smelling roses that night was the start of understanding that other people didn’t get to dictate what my calling was. That Mary would tell me, through that sign and others, when a message was meant for me or when an opportunity required my energy. I was called to devote my life to something bigger than myself, even if it hurt, even if it cost me. I could endure anything with the love of the Divine, a sacred bond that no one else gets to define. The little old ladies, the well-intentioned priests, parents, gurus, even the bishop, none of them could tell me what I saw or what Mary asked me to do. The gravity of my calling, the patterns of how Our Lady speaks to me, the signs I see along the way, are my purpose, my joy and mine to choose. No one else is capable of living it for me or taking it away from me. Only I have the power to say “no” or “yes” when I am called. I have the power of consent.
I say yes to that call each time I stand up for those more vulnerable than me. I say yes when I amplify marginalized voices, using my privilege to hold the door open so they can charge in and kick some ass and when I step back to listen and learn more. I say yes when I touch a lover’s most intimate soul-wounds with unconditional acceptance. I say yes when I embrace the darkest shadow forces of this world with the light of my love. I have walked through chaos and created peace through my passion for service. I have held a light for others as they face their own dark night of the soul. I channel empathy and transform suffering. I am living my life as a testament of love, even when it hurts, even when I think I can’t go on. I say yes.
Once I understood my purpose, once I understood that I wasn’t there to fulfill others’ expectations for my calling, I forged my own path. I know so much more now than I did before. I know how to better discern the signs, how to better meet the challenges asked of me, when and how to ask for help. And I know my work continues to this day as I work to dismantle systems and beliefs that keep us stuck in our illusions of separation and lack. I will always serve gladly as the hands, reaching to offer proof that we are truly all connected. Hand to hand. Heart to heart.
To follow a calling is to share the voice of your heart
But more than anything, I have been called to share my story with you. Here. Today. Sharing my heart this way is the true joy of what I do because I want you to know that this is possible for you as well. It was only when I chose to let go of what others expected me to be that I found the natural flow of my light, my connection to the true potential of my highest self. It is has given me the courage to do the impossible, to live an extraordinary life of love.
And because this post insisted on coming out this month, if something about the words, the images, the emotions resonates with you, consider this your sign from the Divine! Is there a slender, delicate proof of your own truth contained in these words?
This is the Divine’s way of reaching out to say hello, inviting you into a deeper union.
I’m here to affirm that this bigger-than-you thing that you’ve been called to do…yes, you ARE worthy. It is never too late. Awakening happens.
Right. On. Time.
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The past week has been a challenge for me. Triggering events from start to finish. The last time I felt like this I was on the verge of a breakdown. That breakdown was avoided by paying attention to the signs and finally heeding the advice given to me for years and years: meditate.
When I did just a 5 minute meditation everything changed. You can read all about it here (and then stay for the guided meditations). I was able to transform a breakdown into a breakthrough.
Gawd, that sounds cheesy.
The truth is I was able to exert some amount of control over my life. I allowed my heart let go of some of its fears. I felt some of the natural insecurity subside. And everything started to become so…open.
I’ve done a lot of thinking recently about the walls I’ve built up around myself. The lack of dating. The refusal to engage flirtatiously with someone. The counter-intuitive pulling away if someone accidentally gets too close. But that refusal to dream big is far beyond just relationships and potentials. It’s how I’ve chosen to see my calling. How I’ve perceived my own personal power. How I’ve advanced my own dreams. I temper everything so either I don’t disappoint anyone or so I don’t have to experience disappointment either.
In this journey over the past 6 months, I feel like that openness has expanded beyond what I’ve ever achieved before. I can see and feel so much. And in so doing I’m starting to draw people toward me again. By reclaiming my passion, I’m able to give voice to a power within that has been cocooned away healing its wounds over the past few years.
I’m not a stranger to trauma. I’ve had more than my fair share over the past few years. It’s not fair and it’s not right. But the worst of it was in 2012. While there were a few noteably amazing things that happened that year, it overall was a devastating year. It was the last time I was able
to trust anyone or anything. Because even though I passed the bar that year, I was being torn apart by grief. Grief for an abusive brother (yes, you can grieve abusive people too).
Retraumatization showed up in so many forms compounded with heavier forms of secondary trauma thrown in. It had an impact of everything–from insomnia to flashbacks, to uncontrollable crying, to an inability to have sex at all. I really couldn’t function at all after the bar exam. To the point that i even injured my knees and ankles and have trouble walking for months. My body was reflecting my inner world.
This journey to where I am right now started when I was at my lowest then. When I thought I would never feel again, a few days before my birthday I had a dream that allowed me to believe that I would recover. That my soul would come back to life. It was so visceral and so real that 4 years later I can still feel the presence and subject of that dream in my everyday life.
So, let’s call that presence “The Druid”. Let’s say this presence has been growing in my awareness since that dream. Wild and controlled. He is an image from another dream years ago. He a priest of nature and me a priestess of love. Committed partners but both with the freedom to honor the organic connection that is created between people.
So since that day 6 months ago, it’s like this Druid spirit has been growing in influence in my life. I’ve been growing more weary of making my life conform to anyone else’s standards. I’m willing to honor consciously discussed agreements for my partners, but no longer willing to hide behind the walls. The Druid spirit calls me from behind my walls. He calls me to build myself back up again.
Every event that has happened to me has been for this: to find a path to rebuild and renew myself. Every obstacle in my path has been to get me closer to my true self, to find control over my surroundings, over my destiny. Everything as been to gain insight into who I really am–without the chamelon skin and delayed wishes.
It’s felt…big…all this time. But I have been impatient for results. And after having one of the hardest weeks on the job I’ve ever had, I took some clear time for myself. And honestly it has been about savoring the sweet joy of being present in the moment. To sit on the back porch at night feeling the breeze around me. To allow the sensations of life to permeate my life on a deeper level. To be completely emotionally open and honest with Warrior. All of these have been acts of radical self-love. A level I never thought I would achieve.
The lesson here is: Fear not for your path, my friends. Listen to the whispers in your heart, follow the light offered to you. Those whisper, that light and your trust– They will lead you home.