This is a piece I wrote for a memoir writing class I took earlier this year. I decided to post it because it’s my story, although the ending would be a bit different nowadays.
My spirituality has been a meandering path, from growing up in a Christian household and leaving the church at 12, to now.
I became a seeker ever since I left the church, learning from every religion and philosophy I stumbled upon on my path.
I assumed I was carving a new path for myself, but as I started to write this, I realised I’ve walked the same spiritual path throughout my life.
Story 1, circa 1971
Somewhere in the house is a picture that was taken during that summer on one of my family’s Sunday afternoon walks.
The picture is of a little Sylvia with long blonde curls, wearing a poncho her grandmother crocheted for her, inhaling the scent of a rose, gently holding its stem.
The joy on my face beams through that picture.
Now I know it is one of the clearest depictions of my spirituality.
Story 2, Ireland circa 2001
I went to Ireland on a whim, yearning for some normalcy after a hysterectomy.
I don’t remember much of that trip, but one thing is etched in my mind.
You see, I met a tree.
It happened on one of those tourist tours I stumbled upon the day I arrived. The bus I was on stopped at a parking lot of a large store and restaurant for lunch.
I decided to find a place outside to eat the lunch I’d brought with me.
I exited the bus, and there she was; an impossibly tall tree, rising up to the sky, effortless.
I had never seen a tree like that. I walked up to the tree as if drawn towards it, and saw a sign that said it was a Sequoia.
I was stunned. To my knowledge, sequoia’s only grew in California.
I moved in closer, and sat down between her roots.
It felt as if a ton of weight shifted in me at that moment.
I leaned back into her rough skin, looked up into her crown and then I closed my eyes.
I hadn’t ever felt a silence like I felt at that moment, even though the parking lot was nearby and busloads of tourists were dropped off.
I just sat there, perfectly still.
When I opened my eyes, I felt different, stronger.
I rested my hands next to me on the soil, and to my astonishment, a piece of bark fell off, right into my open hand.
I can’t describe what I felt at that moment. Gratitude is the only word that comes close.
I carefully wrapped the piece of bark in the paper I’d wrapped my sandwiches in, stood up, placed my hands on the tree in thanks, and walked away.
Story 3, February 2020
I’m writing in the early morning, sitting up in bed with my large rose quartz palm stone resting on my chest.
Writing this has made me remember what my spirituality is.
A deep connectedness that moves with the seasons and is filled with all the rawness of life.
It moves like the sea does, sometimes calm, sometimes tempestuous, but always forces me to be in the moment. Present.
This also explains why I have felt so disconnected from my spirituality these past few years. I was in recovery after a nasty injury, and couldn’t go out to the park across the street for my usual walks, or to the beach to let the wind take my worries.
Now my foot is getting better, I can’t wait to go out for walks again when spring comes.
I’m very grateful that I can soon stop and smell the roses again.