Spiritualism for me materialized as though a bucket of ice water had been tossed onto my soul. The younger years of my life were relatively placid: I did all the things that my family and society expected of me but there was always an emptiness and questioning inside. I felt lost, no, bereft of spirit and knew I needed to reclaim it.
Physical ministering to those who need it is the easy part. Food, clothing, shelter: these are the most basic needs and thus the easiest to give. Nourishment of the spirit? You have to dig down deeply within yourself to find that answer. For me it was like an epiphany because I would lay awake at night and literally watch my life play before me as if on a movie screen. And I realized that while I had a soul, I had no spirit.
Materialism played a part in the old Rita: getting out there, working, earning money, and that was it. There was no fulfillment because my soul and spirit were getting nothing from it. My rude awakening came in 1987.
I hadn't been feeling well for a while; I'd put off doctors' visits and tests because I couldn't bear to miss a day of work. And then I had no choice. I had my fourth miscarriage and needed emergency treatment. While performing the procedure, my doctor noticed an irregular formation indicative of State I cervical cancer. I was 32 years old and came to in the recovery room effectively neutered - he had performed a total hysterectomy. Then I was told that the deformities and Stage I development noted was a unique one: usually found in the daughters of women who had been treated with DES during difficult pregnancies. I was 32 and unable to bear any more children. I was a failure and stereotypically, worthless as a woman.
When I asked my mother she cried bitterly and I believe she blamed herself. At that moment I hit rock bottom and knew I had to pull not only myself up, but also my mother. God had spared me - but why? That was when I realized that perhaps it was for a higher purpose. It took a long, long time for me to gather the strength to look within myself and to confront the Rita I had become over the years. I didn't like her very much and told her to get with the program. I needed to heal my soul and that has been my life's journey ever since. I understand that we are not meant to know all Divine intentions, but that we accept them gladly, no matter how difficult they are, because they are part of the purpose God has for us.
I faced a lot of personal demons and there were times I could not look into the mirror of my soul without shielding my eyes. God's love for us is whole because it embodies our spirits and we cannot separate the two.
My ULC courses have made me more aware than ever of the spirit and I see the Divine Hand in every thing, every day. We are all children of the Spirit and I feel that these courses put me into a unique position - to help others find and heal their wounded spirits and to understand that a rich soul can benefit you far more than a thick wallet. The ULC has helped me find purpose which is why I am seeking chaplaincy.
Rita S. Milo
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