Spirit Quest is a program that invites you to take a good look at yourself on many levels. It provides tools to help overcome obstacles for a more fulfilling life.
I was raised Roman Catholic and educated through the Catholic School. system I ate, slept and lived Catholicism until I left home at 18.
The question I would ask myself was "Did it make me a better person?" I did find a lot of benefit from it, but found it inhibiting in others. While I have a solid foundation of a Christian upbringing through my long Catholic education, I later came to understand the vulnerability of living one's life within the strict confines of a structured religion. I do have a deep love of God and an understanding of the complexity of how everything in life in connected. I am generous and compassionate. I am also saddled with the "guilt "complex that needs constant work.
I learned early in my life that religion and religious practices are molded to fit the needs and causes of man. As man changes so does religion. In some cases religion has a tendency to divide, promote intolerance and narrow ones focus away from the world.
In my high school years, I was introduced to the art of Judo and the study of eastern spiritual philosophy. I found practices and beliefs that helped to cultivate the spiritual aspects of life. I learned how one understands oneself through meditation and self-reflection, how to achieve inner peace and become more tolerant and understanding of others.
I came to understand that spirituality is less about following the rules of a religion and more a way of living. It is about traveling through life in a spiritual and harmonious way. I came to understand that all things are connected, how one tug on the web of life can be felt by all creatures. I came to understand that animals feel just as humans do. I came to understand how my actions affect others. Say a cross word to your spouse or a friend and they feel it. Say a cross word to your dog and the reaction is the same. Spiritual understanding enhances ones ability to understand ones self, get along with others and to greater experience the moment.
In my early 20's I came across a poster of the Deserata written in 1692. Its advice has been my guide for a lifetime and a mainstay for living spiritually. It starts "Go placidly in the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence". In today's busy world of dead lines and pressure silence is the pathway to mediation.
God has made us in his image and likeness and I believe we were put on this earth to enjoy ourselves and to nurture all we come in contact with. A life of conflict and desperation was not in Gods design for us. Moments of quiet reflection are needed to recharge our battery.
In the world today we are continually challenged. Our day can be filled with stress, of the unexpected and the expected. We balance our lives against the wants and needs of others as well as what we expect of ourselves……and there are moments when we began to feel enough is enough.
Within ourselves each of us has the desire and the need to feel inner peace. It is the time when we need to sit back, take a deep breath, close our eyes and just let go. Many of us choose our own mediums, such as mediation, yoga or music. However, we choose to get there the ultimate reward is worth it.
As a young man I was plagued with migraine headaches. At that time doctors knew very little about curing them. The method was a strong dose of pain killers and rest. I realized if I was to rid myself of them I would have to do it myself. I found the way through deep meditation, relaxation and biofeedback. I was finally able to beat the headaches back and have not suffered for many years.
As I struggled with my cure I found myself in a quiet place close to God and away from the outside world. It was there that I met myself and began to understand the working of me. I was able to begin to shed the skin of negative thoughts and behaviors. I was able to develop tolerance and have that greater understanding of those around me.
Living is a full time job. It can and does wear you down, if you let it. If you seek to find that quiet place you will truly find the heart of peace, you will find you.
Spirit Quest has been a restatement and reminder of those precepts I learned and practiced throughout my life. It has been an enjoyable experience.
Rev. Stephen J. LaJoice
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