When you shake someone’s hand and feel your stomach clench, and look into their eyes and feel your gut concave into to your spine, why do you smile back?
When your friends ask you about your conversation with them you say, “they seem nice,” because you can’t justify why you feel afraid, why you should run.
When you wake up in a funk and rest of day doesn’t go your way, why do you think you woke up in a funk?
I was fourteen, half way through my first year of high school, and one night I dreamt of this kid that I had known in junior high. We weren’t friends; we barely knew one another. But that whole night my dreams were filled with every memory I had of him.
The next day I found out he committed suicide.
At fourteen, I didn’t know how to handle grief, but I as stood in the cafeteria and held my friend as she cried, I think what was more unsettling was coming to the realization that I knew the second I woke up that morning that he was dead. I realized that my dreams were a way to say goodbye, that some force in the universe wanted to prepare me to have to let someone go.
I thought there had to be some rational explanation for what had happened to me. Yet, the only explanation I could think of was that some Harry Potter type of magic had given me a vision of the future. Which by any standard sounds ridiculous. People don’t have a sixth sense.
For centuries religion tried to explain what couldn’t be explained, tried to say that humans were above the lowliness of animalistic senses. But animals kill for survival. We do it for fun. When their body says something, they listen. Why don’t we? Humans are animals, we have instincts that can’t be explained, or taught, or washed away because they are innate.
We have been told that our innate human instincts are something be to feared and shunned, but to call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.
Religion said that spirituality was unholy. That these are witches that must be burned, because a goddess could never rule the earth.
When I was fifteen I found out a friend of mine was Wiccan. We ended up having a conversation on religion, and me being raised Christian, I never knew what the actual practice of Wiccan was. She started explaining that it is an earth-based religion that follows a goddess, and each person writes their own book of morals and life guidelines.
The idea that a whole religion could center around the individual blew my mind. I knew that energy can’t be destroyed or created. Thus, I began to understand and accept the idea that the energy our unique spirits exert must be transferred and felt by plants, animals, and other people. So, in return we as individuals can feel and accept the energy of different plants, animals, and people if we let it. This explains how trees feel trauma thousands of miles apart, why a dog curls up with its owner when they are sad. This explains empathy, and how one person can feel the joy or pain of another.
We have been taught to close off our connection, that everything we could ever need to know is on Google. That there could be no gain to listening to something that you can’t see. As if you could see God standing in front of you. They said spirituality was backward, tribal and any modern and educated person would not subject themselves to it.
Yet do any of these modern, educated people understand that a third of our medicine comes from the Amazon, taught to our doctors by medicine women? My Ethiopian mother has this remedy to ease period cramps, passed from her mother, and her mother before her and so on. It’s a mixture of teff grain (a grain native to Ethiopia), sage, and clove and other herbs. It is heated on the stove in an oatmeal-like mixture; it's not a pleasant sight but it works. I would urge my friends or co-workers to try it, but no one believed that some herbs could be better than a FDA-approved pill.
Until I saw the herbs on Dr. Oz a year ago for $30. I was just walking into the kitchen when I heard Dr. OZ raving on TV about this amazing teff grain that was half the fat and sodium of wheat and how it would do wonders for the body. I sat down on the couch and watched the program, amazed that this grain from my mother’s homeland had made it to the U.S mainstream market.
The list of side effects from that FDA-approved pill are enough to make you take another pill. Our ancestors found natural remedies to heal themselves that they passed down in spirituality- and earth-based practices.
Spirituality is the flow of this planet and every life, death, and energy that goes through it. It is the feeling that something bad is about to happen, it is the euphoria when you feel when you know something is just right. It is the spark of light you feel when you hold the hand of someone you love. It’s when you don’t have to ask what they are thinking because you feel it. It is the centuries of lessons that our ancestors are trying to teach us.
Spirituality is the hum in the background of our lives and with every hum is a lesson, a message, a life.