Here’s the thing about the spiritual journey, we may fee like we are in danger, fighting injustices and bad guys. We may in fact injure ourselves. But we are always in the safest place ever: the Heart of the Sacred. Spirit always co-creates sacred space for us to be in Her presence.
Spider-man has knocked himself unconscious when he was attempting to fight the bad guys and keep them from stealing more dangerous weapons. He awakens in the back of an 18 wheeler.
Standing up he asks Suit Lady: Where am I right now?
Suit Lady: I am not sure. The container walls are hindering my sensors.
Spider-man decides he must be in the bad guys evil lear and he will have to fight his way out. He prepares himself and then charges and breaks down the door, stumbles out of the container, and finds himself in an empty wide-open space full of storage containers like the one he was just locked in.
Looking around he asks: What is this place? Suit Lady where am I?
Suit Lady: You are in the most secure facility on the eastern seaboard, the Damage Control Deep Storage Vault.
The Spiritual Journey
For us to truly connect with Spirit, we need to feel like we are in a safe space. If we do not experience ourselves safe, then we will not allow ourselves to be vulnerable in the presence of the Sacred, and we will miss the opportunity to experience the unconditional Love that heals us and guides us to wholeness.
It is important to create a safe space before we sit down for prayer, meditation, shamanic journey, spiritual connection. What that looks like will be unique to each of us.
For me, personally:
I have created a crystal sacred meditation healing space in my house. As a crystal healer, I have collected more crystals than I want to I know what to do with. One day, I was moving them around and found myself creating a circle around a sheep skin on the floor. As the circle was finished, I experienced this energetic field click into place.
Curious about that, I crawled onto the carpet and settled in to meditate. Wow! I felt supported, surrounded by this safe sacred space that the crystals created — above me, below me, on all side. I was encompassed in a beautiful cocoon of Love.
Each time I move, the crystals direct me where they want to be. I allow them to create the space that I use for meditation and healing.
As a Pastor:
I spend a good hour plus on Sunday mornings creating safe space before worship at the church I serve. How I do this varies from time to time. I drum or rattle to wake up the space and call in Spirit. Sometimes I use a meditation bowl to move peace throughout the worship space. Essential oil and flower essence sprays have been used to create an emotional space of Love, Compassion and Harmony. I follow the flow of Spirit as I prepare the worship space each Sunday in accordance to the theme of the day.
Whoever walks into the worship space is welcome and safe. I hold the Energetic Field of Spiritual Safety and Compassion throughout the worship service, especially during prayer. From time to time, something happens which I tenderly address.
For me, my main job as pastor on Sunday mornings is to create the safe space for those who come to experience the unconditional Love of God.
As a spiritual director:
I invite my directee into a time of silent meditation. Within that time, we connect above to Spirit and below to Mother Earth, allowing the sacred energy and love from both to flow through and around us, creating a sacred container for our conversation. After that, it is my job to hold that container as my directee releases his/her walls and barriers and stands vulnerable in the presence of Spirit. This is a deeply humbling and honoring process and moment. I am as transformed by it as my directee is.
Spirit creates sacred space:
Allow the Sacred to create the space around you. From time to time that is how it is for me. I am out walking and all of a sudden, in the midst of a busy street, I am face to face with the Sacred. Everything else has dropped away. I feel 100% safe as I walk side by side with Spirit. Those moments, when Spirit comes and establishes the space, those are the deeply transformational life-changing moments that have shifted huge aspects of my life:
One sent me on a journey to come live in New Mexico.
Another the dream of my business was born.
Another Spirit shared Her name.
Each time we come into the presence of the Sacred, we co-create with Spirit a safe space to commune and be in. We learn to do that through breathe, through meditation, through envisioning, through physical creating in a room.
Experiment with it. Usually a bit of all of the above comes into play as you co-create the safe sacred space/container for your time with Spirit. Play with it. Enjoy the exploration of how you come into contact with the Sacred.
So play. Explore. Allow yourself to fall into safe sacred space and be cracked open by Spirit.
When we connect in with our spiritual gifts and abilities it can be overwhelming at first. We have no idea what to do with them. Sometimes, we feel at a loss as to how to best use them in the service of Spirit. Occasionally, we may not even realize we have them until something happens that causes us to put that particular gift to work.
That moment when we first put our gifts to use can feel sort of like it did for Spider-man when he first attempted to use his spider suit…
Suit-lady has guided Spider-man to the bad guys. He leaps off the top of a truck landing beside a road near an empty gas station.
Suit Lady: Detecting three individuals
Spider-man: Why is their secret lear in a gas station, that’s so lame.
He climbs to the top of the gas station sign and asks Suit Lady: Hey Suit Lady, what are they doing?
Suit Lady: Do you want to hear what they are saying?
Spider-man: I can hear what they are saying? Ah, yeah.
Suit Lady: Activating enhanced recognizance mode
Suit Lady activates the program and Spider-man is able to hear what the bad guys are saying. After he listens to their plans, he decides to get a little closer.
Suit Lady: Would you like me to engage enhanced combat mode?
Spider-man: Enhanced combat mode? Yeah…
Suit Lady activates enhanced combat mode by saying: Activating instant kill
Spider-man: No, no, no, I don’t want to kill anybody.
Suit Lady: Deactivate instant kill.
Spider-man then shoots his web-shooter and jumps landing on his face on the ground. His web-shooter did not shoot his normal webs. Confused he uses his web-shooters again and they spray weird web balls everywhere.
Spider-man as he runs for cover: Suit Lady what is wrong with my web-shooters?
Suit Lady: Rapid fire is the default for enhanced combat mode.
This similar experience keeps happening as Spider-man attempts to get used to his spider-suit’s new abilities. He keeps having challenges and difficulties during his attempted ambushing of the bad guys. It does not go well. He ends up knocking himself out in the back of an 18-wheeler….
In the Christian tradition, it is Paul who writes and introduces them to us. In 1 Corinthians 12, he writes:
“God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:
What do I mean by Spiritual Gifts?
These are the ones listed in the Bible, but there are so many more. Any skill, talent, ability, and strength that you use in service to Spirit is a spiritual gift. As spiritual gifts are the talent and abilities that Spirit has placed within our hearts. These skills build within our hearts, creating a passion and call to put them to use. Usually something happens that ignites that passion and pushes us to use them. Many times, it is when we see, experience, witness injustices around us to happening to us that we step up. Other times it is a deep desire to help, to serve that ignites the skill.
When you arrive at the moment when you decide to put your spiritual gifts to use, Spirit is there to guide you. Hopefully it will not be an hilarious as Spider-man’s first use of enhanced modes in his spider-suit. But, Spirit is much more helpful than Suit Lady. She is a computer program that does what the programming tells her to. Spirit is the Creator of the gift you are about to put to use and knows how you can best use your gift. This is a deep comfort as you step into your spiritual power.
Your gifts are an expression of your spiritual power in this world. They you ways to share your connection to Spirit, your own transformational power with the world. All you have to do is fully embody the gift. (I wrote about embodying our creation in this post.)
Embodying Your Spiritual Gifts
Here is the thing about embodying spiritual gifts. When you step fully into the spiritual gift, you become aligned fully with Spirit. Spirit is flowing freely and fully through you. There is no space between you and Spirit. You are One. Know that and trust that and open yourself to experience that.
What do I mean?
I am a pastor. This means that every Sunday I have to preach a sermon. When I first began preaching, I would write it out word for word and read the sermon. I was so nervous that otherwise I would not know what to say. But as I was preaching the sermon I felt a distance, a gap between me and the movement of Spirit.
First growth moment in preaching
One week, I found I could no longer write my sermons. I was given an outline. That freaked me out. Spirit decided it was time for me to grow as a preacher, to release my fears and trust more and more in Spirit’s movement and wisdom during the preaching moment. That first Sunday I preached off notes, I was a wreck up until the sermon. Then something came over me, a deep peace, I focused in and preached. It felt so different. The gap between me and Spirit shrunk.
About a year later, when I was comfortable with preaching from notes, Spirit took my notes away. I remember attempting to prepare the sermon. It kept running through my heart, but I literally could not put it down on paper. Each time I tried it felt horrible. I would go for a walk and a powerful sermon would run through my heart. Then, I would attempt to write the outline and yuck! After repeating this cycle a few times that week, I finally gave up. I did not sleep the night before I was to preach with no notes.
That Sunday morning, my congregation members asked me where my sermon was. I could not speak, so I pointed to my heart. They nodded. I was anxious and could not breathe. Sitting in the pulpit, I began praying that Spirit become one with me and preach the sermon.
When I stood up, I found myself walking away from the pulpit to the middle of the altar area. Wow, that was different. I was no longer hiding. Taking a deep breath, I began to preach. I was making eye contact the entire time. It felt like there was literally no gap between me and Spirit. I felt like the sermon was a conversation between Spirit and the congregation mediated through me.
Now this is how I preach. I walk and allow sermons to run through my heart trusting fully that on Sunday morning the appropriate sermon for that moment will run through my heart and out my mouth in conversation with the congregation. It is a humbling experience.
Notice how Spirit taught me to use this spiritual gift called preaching. Notice how Spirit walked me step by step to where I am now, allowing me to gain the confidence I needed to trust deeply, to surrender fully, to become One with Spirit.
Trust that as you engage in whatever spiritual gift you have been given, this will be your experience. You will be fully guided by the One who gifted you.
Fruits of the Spirit
As you use your gift, you will experience what Paul calls the fruits of the Spirit, “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” (Galatians 5, the Message)
This will be a sign that you are on the right path. You will feel yourself aligning fully with Love, Peace, Joy, Compassion. Spirit’s Light will shine forth from you. You will notice God’s transforming Justice growing. You will be One with all that is Sacred.
May you know this moment. May you trust this experience.
A key aspect of our spiritual journey is learning how to listen for the Voice of God, the movement of Spirit. Again, most of us are not taught how to do this as we grow up. As adults, many of us feel inadequate when it comes to connecting in, feeling the movement of the Sacred and listening to the Voice of Spirit.
The first time we hear that voice, experience that movement, it can feel very much like the first time Peter Parker heard the voice of suit-lady…
Peter has fought with the bad guys again. This time, as he walked away, he found parts of one of their weapons. He pocketed it and worked on taking apart the weapon during shop class in school the next day.
The bad guys come looking for the weapon after the class is over. Peter sneaks in and hides. As they walk away he places a tracker on them. The tracker takes the bad guys to Maryland.
Peter decides that the way to get to their evil lear is to rejoin the Academic Decathalon team that is going to DC. He gets to DC with his friend Ned and decides he wants to remove the tracker from his suit so that Tony Stark does not know where he is. While removing the tracker, Ned finds other sub-systems that have been disabled by what is called the “Training Wheels Protocol.” Peter talks Ned into turning off the Training Wheels Protocol and giving him full access to his suit.
He then heads out to track the bad guys. Upon putting on his mask…
A voice says, “Good evening Peter.”
Peter is looking all around for the voice and says, “Hello?”
As a computer screen comes up in his mask, the voice says “Congratulations on completely the rigorous training wheels protocol and gaining access to your suits full capabilities.”
Peter, “Uh. Thank you.”
Voice from the suit, “So where would you like to take me tonight?”
Peter, “Uh, I put a tracker on someone. He’s a bad guy.”
Voice from the suit, “Tracker located. Plotting course to intercept target.”
Not everyone has the gift of literally hearing Spirit’s voice, as Peter Parker does with suit-lady. This spiritual gift is called clairaudient, having the ability to hear across the spiritual veil. If this is one of your gifts, you know exactly how Peter Parker was feeling in the above scene.
Even without the spiritual gift of clairaudient, you can hear and experience the movement and voice of Spirit. It comes through in so many ways. All you need to do is pay attention.
Here are a few ways Spirit communicates:
However Spirit decides to communicate with you, that first time you connect in can feel very weird. Who is talking? Where is this song coming from? What does this dream mean? Why do I keep seeing snakes everywhere? What are you trying to say Spirit?
My example: Lyme Disease
This first disorienting experience opens us to a new way of listening. It is like any new skill, we have to practice it. The more we exercise this new ‘muscle’ the more confident we become in using it, listening to Spirit, surrendering, allowing Spirit to guide us.
Five years ago, I was exhausted, barely able to get out of bed for more than three hours. My body ached. I could not even walk two blocks without wanting to go back to bed. Three weeks earlier I had hiked for a week in the White Mountains in NH. My dad and I hiked at least three 4,000 ft plus mountains. I expected a little bit of exhaustion when I returned, but this was crazy.
Before I went to sleep, I would send a prayer to Spirit asking what was happening to my body. One morning I was jolted awake with, “You have Lyme Disease! Go see a doctor.” I laid there stunned, like really? But I have learned over the years to listen when Spirit speaks.
The healing journey
I went to the doctor and got a limn disease test. They told me it was negative. I asked to see it, because Spirit is never wrong. The test showed strands of lyme in each ‘test’ but apparently not enough strands to be positive.
I was confused, so I called a natural-pathic healer I know. She gave me the name of a healer who works specifically with Lyme disease. I went. She tested me and I scored off the charts — 10 out of 10. She said, “If this test went higher you would be the highest number.” No wonder I felt horrible. She started me on homeopathic medicine. I started to feel better. Then one day I bombed again, hit rock bottom, couldn’t move.
Crying as I went to bed, I sent another prayer. Again, Spirit woke me in the morning, “Go see a doctor and demand antibiotics. It’s time.” So I went, and the doctor did not believe me. I decided to advocate for myself. I sat in protest and would not leave the office until he gave me what I wanted. When I left, I had the antibiotics I needed. 24 hours later I was bounding back.
It felt weird to me to tell the doctors that I had Lyme disease and I knew it because Spirit told me. I did actually say that to the doctor at one point. It was hilarious (after the fact). The natural-pathic healer I saw believed me. She got what I was saying. She knew Spirit was speaking to me.
Healing, Spirit's guidance
It feels weird when you hear Spirit. That was not my first time having Spirit speak so clearly. It seems to feel weird each time. However, when I listen, when I surrender my fears and anxieties about how others will see me, and follow Spirit’s guidance, I am always guided toward health, love, peace, joy, abundance, healing, wholeness. Each time I follow Spirit’s word, I gain more confidence in my spiritual journey, my Trust deepens, and I rely more and more on Spirit’s presence as I walk my life path.
How are you listening to Spirit today? How is Spirit speaking to you?
Carve out some time today and pay attention.
Spirit might have something to share that will change you life for the better.
Pastor Jocelyn Emerson weaves together her training as a Light and Energy worker, Reiki master, spiritual director, and Pastor with her life experience as a mystic and contemplative to offer a space of trust, safety, and honesty to support you on your life's journey.