I came from an eclectic religious background. My mother was an agnostic; my father, a member of the Reformed Church; my brother, a Methodist; my sister and I confirmed Episcopalians. From the third through the twelfth grade I attended an all-girls' Catholic school. At this school, I learned to have guilt and a fear of punishment. Eventually these emotions evolved into free-floating anxiety. During those years I learned all the classifications of sin: sins of omission, sins of commission, mortal sins, venial sins. I watched my classmates go to confession, make reparation, and be absolved of their sins. But I could not go to confession, and I could not be forgiven because I was a non-Catholic. Therefore, at some level I was always vigilant, watching and waiting for the punishment that was sure to come. Paradoxically, my years at Catholic school also provided me with a sound basis for my now evolving spirituality. This I have come to realized only recently.
During the summer of 1987 I attended my first Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship Conference in Lynchburg, Virginia. I arrived with my angers, fears, guilts, and mental classification system intact. By the end of the week my world view, my entire life view had undergone a transformation. The word I have chosen to characterize that conference for me was "phenomena." I saw things, felt things and experienced things that could not fit into my mental schema. Each day would bring new phenomena ranging from feeling the flow of energy to listening to a man who had died and come back to seeing a UFO to meeting people who worked with spirit helpers to seeing physical manifestation of that fact. I remember thinking that my perception of reality had shifted 47 degrees. I don't know why it was 47 degrees, but that was my feeling. It was as though something was saying to me, "Pay attention Kathi - there is more to reality than you have dreamed."
The last full day of the conference I sat at lunch with friends, old and new. In spite of the amazing phenomena I had experienced, I remember saying "Well this has been fascinating but, I wanted something really big to happen to me."
That afternoon my life changed forever. I had not pre-registered for Carol Canova's class but I went. As she taught, I remember being aware that what she was saying was very important for me. Then I noticed there was no tape recorder, as in other classes, and I had very much wanted a tape. Someone had forgotten. Then I asked if I could get copies of her class notes. She answered that every class was different, since she taught according to the needs she perceived from each class. I was not pleased. I knew the class was important for me and I wanted to be able to go back later to review what was being taught.
Later Carol reached into a stack of notes and pulled out something dealing with forgiveness. As she began talking about forgiveness, I became so totally focused on her and her message, I remember feeling as though the only reality in the world at that time was the interior rim of my pupils and Carol - talking about forgiveness. Then something profound happened to me, something I cannot name, some kind of opening, release, transformation that was so powerful I gasped aloud. The woman next to me turned and looked into my eyes. I was crying; she was crying; and then half the class was crying as we held hands and said a prayer of thanks. The class ended at 3:30. At 4:00 I had coincidentally scheduled my first-ever appointment with a spiritual counselor, and the appointment was with Carol Canova. That session allowed a catharsis that did much to dissolve the guilt and fear I had carried for so many years. I also, that evening, went to confession with a Catholic priest who was attending the conference. I was forgiven and blessed, which my mind needed, and forgave myself and the Catholic church, which my heart needed. I felt that I had been freed from a suit of armor that I had been wearing all of my life. I went home from the conference feeling like a totally different person, living in a totally new reality. It took about four months to become grounded again. Metaphysics and spirituality had changed from a mental pursuit to a passion of my heart and soul. I had found what I had been looking for; that empty space inside of me was starting to fill.
During the second year of my studies, my heart dictated my reading, my choice of classes. If something didn't feel right, I would put it aside. As my reading and classes progressed, I felt that my view of reality was continuing to shift, this time past 47 degrees; past 90 degrees. One day the thought came to me that reality was like the point in the center of a sphere. My view of reality was shifting not only around a two-dimensional circle, but was shifting in three dimensions around the surface of this sphere. Reality was at the center, and I was learning multiple new ways of perceiving it.
The 1988 SFF Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina was approaching and I anticipated the experience with great expectation. I had spent the intervening year learning and growing. Yet, I was not certain of my path, and felt I needed a teacher who would lead me and guide me and show me the way Because of the experiences of that second conference I came to know, believe, feel, and realize that part of my life's work - or perhaps all of it - is to come to honor the divinity within myself. That through recognizing, embracing, and honoring that greater Self, I can begin to serve. Only by non-judgmentally accepting all manifestations of God, including all aspects of myself, can I live in a way that reveres all of creation. ©