The Spiritual Pathway of Community

My colleague, Sharon, holds a monthly New Moon ceremony at her home. Our gathering is small, but the dialog is always stimulating. Sharon has been the mainstay of this monthly event. She sets the monthly schedule and then plans the actual ritual. Sometimes the rest of us will take responsibility for a session, but it is Sharon who unwaveringly holds this sacred space, and most of the time, she provides the starting point for our “monthly moon launch,” so to speak.

Sacred circles are quite common these days and come in a wide variety of denominations as well as beliefs. Some are highly structured; others are freer flowing. Many people regard common ancient beliefs as the foundation for these circles, but I believe that the vital essence is the act of affirmation of community. For some people, attending a church meets this need. I must admit, if you like things organized and fairly predictable, this certainly is convenient.

Then there are those of us who seem to prefer something “messier”. We have spent a lifetime exploring religious and spiritual beliefs, and cannot find a so-called perfect fit. Try as we might, no single established path resonates completely with us. At times, we envy those who do achieve this. It can be a bit lonely at times. But most of the time, we are grateful for the freedom we feel in embracing many beliefs and ideas simultaneously, and we are not necessarily concerned about structure, or direction, for that matter.

I spent my childhood in the mission churches that were so prevalent in Hawaii, even in the 1960’s. My Hawaiian grandfather was a Congregational lay minister (and also a Kahuna). My sister and I attended a mission preschool, and I also spent time at activities at the local Mormon Church, thanks to my hula teacher. Many of my grade school chums came from devout Catholic families. Hawaii is a great melting pot of cultures, so living with this wide diversity of beliefs seemed pretty normal to me. And this was just my childhood!

As a teenager I had a deeply transformative experience. This occurred during the summer of my 17th year, when I was an exchange student in Sri Lanka. On this beautiful island, which is predominantly Buddhist, I spent a great deal of time observing eastern religions first hand. My host family was wonderful loving people, but they also held widely diverse spiritual views. My host mother and siblings attended Anglican Church regularly, but my host father was a devout Buddhist. My school chums where Christians, Hindus and Muslims. This seemed pretty normal to them.

In addition to participating with their religious practices, my Sri Lankan family went to great lengths to show me the many Hindu and Buddhist temples and shrines throughout the island. All of these experiences had a profound effect on me. I began questioning my religious beliefs very seriously. Is it possible, I thought, that all beliefs are connected to a single Divine Source? These were the early seeds germinating in me contemplating the oneness and interconnection with all beings, but I didn’t have a way to articulate this. I concluded that, upon my return to the U.S., I would seek a church or religion embracing this belief.

I never did find a specific church – or a religion.

When one has a transformative experience, often it is hard to assimilate back into a previous life. That was what happened to me that summer. I came back to my home and my family in the U.S., and I felt terribly out of place. I simply could not relate to my American life, high school or my friends. It was at that point in my life, I began my own personal quest for truth, realizing there was no comfortable place to return. I would need to find my own way “home” to Spirit—whatever that was. There was this deep thirst in me to seek my own truth, and this gave me a restless spirit, forever longing to travel to foreign lands.

It has been a journey that has taken me over 35 years (and still continues). Traveling throughout the world, I have spent a great deal of time exploring spirituality as an individual, and have concluded that that was what I needed to define myself. Not surprisingly, my beliefs resonate most with those of my Native Hawaiian ancestors (more on that later). However, I have realized that this was not enough. I needed to find community.

The interesting thing is that when you make a heart decision like this, extraordinary, wonderful people show up in your life. I have been so grateful for meeting these kindred spirits—the friends of my heart—along the way. With their insights and gift of friendship we have helped each other find our unique pathways to God. As we have maneuvered through our lives, we have provided love and support to one another.

So, going back to Sharon—these monthly New Moon gatherings she holds are a culmination of many years and many roads traveled, as individuals and as a community. Because we continue on our own paths, we share and then take away individually at the conclusion of each gathering. Due to winter weather, our last 2 gatherings had to be cancelled. This has made me highly aware of the degree this work carries me energetically, month to month. There was definitely a sense of something missing, in spite of observing the New Moon as an individual. This affirms to me the importance of such monthly gatherings for me.

Like the ebb and flow of the tide, each person experiences this community time differently, but we all acknowledge the need to honor this time each month. It is through this gathering we affirm the monthly cycle within all of us, which is the collective feminine spirit.