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FEATURE - September 2019
Life is a Sacred Journey
by Eileen Patra
The words “Sacred Journey” may bring to mind an expensive trip to Machu Picchu or a lengthy stay with a guru at the top of some desolate mountaintop. That kind of journey can, in fact, be enormously helpful in gaining a greater understanding of and sense of transcendence over human experiences. But there is another sacred journey taking place all the time. It is the evolution of the soul, a continuous return to the Sacred Self. This is a journey that occurs not despite our human experiences, but often because of them.
A familiar proverb from the Tao Te Ching is often quoted as, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The more accurate translation, however, ends with “... begins beneath the feet.” This more correct version implies that the greatest of all journeys is not to some distant destination, but rather, right where we stand, amid both life’s triumphs and challenges. Life, it seems, is a sacred journey disguised as a series of ups and downs–and sometimes, abrupt turnarounds.
Life ... is a sacred journey disguised as a series of ups and downs–and sometimes, abrupt turnarounds.
The deepest, most sacred journey you will ever embark upon is the one that begins not with a single step, but with a single shift—a shift from the world of outer appearances to the infinite place of wholeness and Light within you.
You are, essentially, an expression of the Divine, blessed with the innate attributes of Spirit. Therefore, by nature, you are sacred, and your experiences in this life are all about returning to and reconciling your human expression with your original state of sacredness–your Sacred Self. You and your life journey are sacred, though the ups and downs of life may tell you a different story.
A great example of returning to the Sacred Self is illustrated in the process of healing. All healing, regardless of the outer steps taken to achieve it, begins in the invisible realm of the Sacred Self, which is always whole. The return to this awareness of wholeness is then made manifest either in the body or in its transcendence to a higher realm.
In 2016, my husband, Steve, was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a frightening time of ups, downs, and unexpected turnarounds. The disease was detected early, and the small lesion was not likely to take his life, but the biopsy nearly did. During the biopsy, Steve’s lung was accidentally punctured, releasing infectious fluids into his chest cavity, resulting in a sepsis infection and a sixteen-day stay in the intensive care unit.
As Steve lay in a tortuously uncomfortable gurney-style bed with tubes and leads all over his body, I sat in the recliner that became my temporary home. He slept, moaned, developed additional problems and ever so slowly began to heal. But the real healing was not happening in that room. It was happening in a sacred dance between our Sacred Selves in another, invisible realm.
The illness, though frightening, provided us with an opportunity for deep spiritual healing. We were forced to slow down and spend an unprecedented amount of time together, not just in the hospital room, but later at home during his lengthy recovery. Old wounds, disappointments, and challenges surfaced for release and transformation. Spiritual commitments were renewed and reinforced. And, one of Steve’s deepest wounds, the post-traumatic effects of his service in Viet Nam, surfaced for healing.
The mountains of paperwork related to Steve’s stay in the VA hospital opened the door to a deeper conversation about his service than we had ever had before. I knew that Steve had served as an aircrew member delivering supplies to troops on the ground, and sadly, removing body bags. As we sifted through photographs, gathered flight records, and photocopied commendations and the flag he had carried in case of capture, Steve shared for the first time his worst fear—that one day, one of the body bags he loaded would contain the remains of a friend, of someone he knew and loved. Speaking those words aloud, I believe, cleared a dense energy that had clung to Steve for years, perhaps suffocating him for a very long time, and ultimately manifesting as a lesion on his lung.
Today, Steve is two years cancer-free. Although he is still recovering from the physical trauma to his body, the experience opened the door to a much higher healing–the ability to voice his greatest fear from the traumatic effects of war. It was a journey that opened both of us to a deeper awareness of the sacred dance we share.
Life is a sacred journey that occurs with or without your conscious awareness. Awareness, however, is the singular shift that launches and hastens the journey to the Sacred Self. When life’s downs and complete turnarounds present themselves, initiate this shift of awareness with these four simple steps:
Embrace them and look for what your Sacred Self is calling into action.
Breathe. If you’ve been busy with the doingness of life, remember to simply be.
Release the need to control, and allow Spirit to work in and through you.
Allow Light and love flow to and through you–often found in the faces and forms of friends and prayer partners, but sometimes in interactions with doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, complete strangers, or even mountains of paperwork.
The world today is experiencing tremendous ups, downs, and startling turnarounds. Imagine the potential for our collective sacred journey if we released our tendency to judge these things as bad and embraced them for the opportunities they are to grow ever closer to our collective Sacred Selves.
Life is a Sacred Journey continuously calling you to a greater awareness of your Sacred Self and to our collective Divinity. Enjoy the journey. It is uniquely yours, and it is unquestionably sacred.
Eileen Patra, an award-winning author, minister, and inspirational speaker, has published dozens of spiritually-themed articles in local periodicals, online journals, and via her blog at eileenpatra.com. She has recently published her first novel, The Mystical Ark: A Vessel of Blessings, a work of visionary fiction rich with transformational journeys. https://www.themysticalark.com/