What Would Jesus Do?
“What do you need to feel ready?” she asked me.
It was almost exactly a year before the cancer diagnosis I didn’t yet know was looming so close. In the Skype window reflecting my image I could see row after row of purple bordered diplomas and certifications behind me. A law degree and a master’s degree. Admissions to the bars of four states. Papers conferring on me the readiness required to carry out certain tasks.
I had been feeling a pull for some time, but to what direction I wasn’t sure. Because I knew my timing was the best timing, I was whipping wildly around all corners of my world in order to try to solve the riddle. Maybe I was meant to be a pastor. Or maybe a spiritual director. Or a life coach.
Which is how I landed in this session with a life coach of my own, trying to figure out what my dharma might be.
I had decided that a part of that might involve coaching professional women who were just tentatively stepping into recovery.
Despite the fact that I was in recovery, and was a successful professional, I felt anything but ready to take the leap into working with others. I wanted someone else to guarantee my readiness. My success. I wanted another purple bordered diploma that would scream to the masses on my behalf "KAITY IS READY!"
She gave me the homework of spending the next week thinking about the answer to her question – what would I need to feel ready.
When our digital images met the next week, I laid my answer out for her. It looked like a three-year, $20,000 self-designed curriculum.
“I think you missed the point,” she laughed.
* * *
There is a saying:
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
This has proven true for me in spades. Suddenly, and without much effort or warning, I find myself at the feet of several teachers. My teachers.
None of them were found anywhere in that three-year curriculum I designed back when.
* * *
I spent the months after those sessions seemingly running into brick wall after brick wall. I applied to study with Father Richard as part of the Living School. I spent countless hours over the span of about four months painstakingly selecting the words to convince him to select me for his program. When I wasn’t selected, I spent a frenzied week determined to find any remotely similar program that would take me immediately. I was not waiting another year to get a move on my fuzzy plan. No way. I found two programs that were in no way similar to the Living School, but which would let me start in a few short months, and decided to choose between the two and take classes there.
In the meantime, I met a yogi I knew I wanted to study with. Everything about her drew me to her. But she didn’t offer any teacher trainings that worked with my schedule or my finances. So I found a training that I could complete quickly, despite the fact that it did not focus on any of the things that felt most important to me and was not led by any teacher who really felt like mine. But I wanted to get it done, and this was the fastest path.
And then I got sick.
And it all had to be tabled.
And it was the best thing ever.
* * *
In the weeks after I made the decision to forgo additional chemotherapy, an interesting thing happened.
I discovered that the yogi I knew I wanted to study under had started her own 200 and 500 hour teacher training (and she would come a few months later to announce her own Ayurveda school as well). Not only had she started a training, but it was one I could fit into my schedule. One that I could afford. One that would provide me with the teachings that I knew would continue to help me in my own healing, and would provide me with the tools I could use to work with others.
With the encouragement of my spiritual director, I reapplied to the Living School. I downloaded the application at the very last minute, and I can’t tell you what I included in my answers this time around - I wrote it all in under 2 hours and I'm pretty sure there was in proof-reading. In fact, I nearly forgot I had applied until I found the acceptance letter sitting in the junk mail of my email account on a random Saturday while I was watching B movies with my little brother.
And just a few short months after that, when on a whim I offered to let a beautiful stranger share my home and a long drive to the river, I stumbled on the last piece of my puzzle and the teacher to guide me. I never would have imagined myself studying Vedic Astrology, but I am, and I love it, and its so right.
So here I am. Studying Tantric philosophy and Ayurveda and contemplative practices and Vedic astrology.
None of which was in my self-created plan just a small time ago.
* * *
I’ll answer the immediate question that tends to arise when I tell people I am back in school.
I hope to use these teachings to work with women who find themselves in what Father Richard refers to as the second half of life far earlier than what would chronologically be considered the second half of this lifetime for them. I hope to use Vedic Astrology to help guide them toward their dharma, Ayurveda and contemplative practices to help them design a life that will allow them to live well in this new space, and Tantric philosophy to help them prepare for the unavoidable reality that at some point we all will die. Believe me, once you get okay with that, life’s beauty magnifies tenfold.
[Quick sidebar here. I hate to disappoint, but despite what Sting may have led you to believe, Tantra has do to with a whole lot other than sex. So that’s not what we’re talking about when I refer to it here.]
I will be offering coaching sessions, chart readings, workshops, and retreats. My affinity for oils, crystal healing, and mudras will be tied in with consults for custom items that can be used for your own practices and healing. And yes, at some point, there will be a book. And, sooner-rather-than-later, a podcast.
Unless, of course, God has other plans.
* * *
“But aren’t you a Christian?” you just asked me in your head. “What would Jesus have to say about this? What would he do if you told him your plan?”
Well, that’s part of what we are going to be exploring here going forward.
See, the thing I have recently discovered about myself is that I had it wrong for a very long time when it comes to myself and faith.
For so long, I thought that the pull inside myself toward a closer relationship with the Divine meant shoehorning myself into one organized religion or another. I thought it meant that I had to pick a team and then be the MVP of that team (have I mentioned my perfectionist tendencies?). I thought it meant a slow slide into Conservative Judaism or daily attendance at Catholic Mass. I thought it meant actually following all those rules set out in Leviticus as closely to perfect as possible in this day and age and being able to crown myself with the perfect attendance award for Sunday morning church.
But the truth is, that’s not what God was asking me to do. None of it.
[S]He never wanted me to try to be the MVP.
I wasn’t supposed to earn the most gold stars.
God blessed me with a crazy spiritual heart and steadfast faith. But [S]He also gave me an explorer’s mind and a traveler’s wanderlust and an unyielding thirst for knowledge. That combination doesn’t set me up for conformity. For boxes. For checking off items from a list of rules.
But it does make me someone who can explore the current boundaries we place around what it means to be a Christian. It makes me someone who can ask “What Would Jesus Do?” and allow it to mean something totally different than it did when my Christian friends were sporting their WWJD bracelets back in the early 90s. And I’m fairly sure that as we start knocking on the walls that have been confining Christianity for a while now we will come to find that they are actually smoke and mirrors. That there is less of a divide than we may have believed all along.
So lets start taking a look at that question that so many people have been avoiding the real answer to for so long.
Going forward, there will be a chat around here about how the teachings I am delving into find a home in my Christian faith. I can't promise you any neat and clean answers, or that we aren't going to hit some rough patches in this exploration. It might be uncomfortable to think of Jesus smudging his sandals or putting his stones out to soak in the moonlight before he began his next long walk. But how do we know if he didn't if we never stop to ask?
So let start asking ourselves, what would Jesus do?