Sunday, February 26, 2017

Faith Quest

On JJ’s birthday 255 days ago his mama, my sun and soulmate was torn from her body and from us. Since that time I have wrestled with the question, does she still exist? Unfortunately I still do not know. Months ago I was completely overwhelmed by loss, darkness and doubt and I was leaning in the direction that she was gone never to be seen again.

For the last 10ish years I have been a divine seeker of truth. I sincerely enjoy learning from faith traditions across the globe on my quest for God and the divine. I love Jesus and I love Buddha. I have always believed that there is a God out there and gravitate toward the LDS (Mormon) idea of there being a divine Father and divine Mother. But after this tragedy I lost my quest partner in an experience that is so heart breaking I began to have extreme doubts (I have of course had little doubts) if a loving God could exist with such pain and suffering in the world. It is one thing to read about it in the news and quite another to experience it first hand.

I have reached toward God and Shar in agony with intense hope and a “mustard seed” of faith. Now months later I think the dial has been tipped in the direction of belief. Difficult to quantify but I’d say I’m currently at 60/40 (belief/doubt) as compared to 35/65 back in June. Hope has been at a steady 100+ all along. So I’m making progress on my journey without the other half of my soul (at least in this physical realm).

What has helped me on my path?
  • Time. The more removed I am from the immediacy of the tragedy I think the more able my spiritual ears and eyes are to hear and see
  • Reading. I have read lots of books. Books on loss and grief. Books on near death experiences. Books written by psychics and mediums. Scriptures from Christianity and Buddhism. Unfortunately there is no “silver bullet”. Probably the book that was most helpful to me on this journey is “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Rabbi Harold Kusnher
  • Embracing my suffering. Instead of turning away from it turning toward it. This has helped me grow in compassion and feel connected to Shar
  • Talking to others about pain and loss as well as their own spiritual findings. This of course includes family, friends, strangers online, and my beloved students.
  • Seeking out professional help. I have ongoing meetings with an incredible therapist. I have met with a three different mediums (with a healthy dose of skepticism) where I have had incredible faith/hope affirming experiences. I have sought out religious leaders who have been incredibly kind, compassionate and Christ-like.
  • I journal. Not as in depth or as beautifully as Shar did. But I try to keep two different logs. One, a gratitude journal and the other “Shar signs” in my life.
  • Meditation and prayer. Most nights before going to bed I light some incense, sit on my meditation cushion, get out my prayer beads, and while facing loving images of Sharry, JJ, Jesus and Buddha sit and meditate. I look forward to this time every day. I start my session by asking that I may be in tune with my “Buddha Mind, Christ heart and Sharry soul”. Then I have a variety of different meditations that I cycle through on different nights that last 10-15 minutes. I follow my meditation by prayer, often emotional, where I plead with God to bless JJ and to have his and Shar’s presence known to me, to help my heart and ears to be open and that together Shar and I may work to bring greater light, love and compassion to this world. Then I try to study at least a bit from some sort of spiritual text. My mind wanders like crazy, doubts abound, and my spiritual ears have yet to be open but I think I am making progress.

I believe Shar exists. Do I know? Not by a long shot. But I do believe that we will be together someday. I hope that I can learn to feel her presence in this life. Because as one extraordinary religious leader told me, “Sharry surely still exists and is closer than you’ll ever know. Her primary job now is to watch over you and her baby.” And this quote shared by a Baha’i reader of our blog that is a teaching of her faith:
"when two people, husband and wife for instance, have been completely united in this life their souls being as one soul, then after one of them had passed away, this union of heart and soul would remain unbroken." And " why should thou be sad and heartbroken? This separation is temporal; this remoteness and sorrow is counted only by days. Thou shalt find him in the Kingdom of God and thou wilt attain to the everlasting union. Physical companionship is ephemeral, but heavenly association is eternal. Whenever thou rememberest the eternal and never ending union, thou wilt be comforted and blissful."

Isn’t that beautiful!? Since receiving that I have added some Baha’i scripture to my reading queue.  

I still have a long way to go on my divine adventure and sincerely appreciate whatever insights, prayers and well wishes you can send my direction. We all, at different times, experiences periods of intense darkness, suffering and doubt in our lives and I know that there is strength and power in giving voice to those moments of vulnerability. May peace, light, health and love be with you all.

In closing I wanted to share this poem that I heard on a recent “Terrible thanks for asking” podcast about death. Love it and I am choosing to believe that Shar is just off on a sailing adventure as she always wanted to do, and for now, is just gone from my sight.

Gone From My Sight
-Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
Gone where?
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
And that is dying...
Love this picture of JJ and Shar's newly placed headstone
It reads "beloved and eternal friend, sister, daughter, mother, soulmate"


  1. I vowed I didn't want to be around widows or widowers or have anything to do with them, scared that their sad stories would just make the dark cloud over my head worse. But oddly, it is comforting knowing I'm not the only one going through this. I can relate to a lot of what you've said. I've have the same thoughts about existence. It feels like your previous life with that person was a mirage in your head.

  2. I just listened to your story and sometimes it is unbelievable to understand how much suffering some people are going through. I have no doubt Shar is your soulmate and I believe that she lives in you since while listening to your story I could feel how embraced by love you are. You are a beautiful soul and JJ a divine gift.
    Astrid from Ireland

  3. My name is Ilana, I a the person that sent you the Baha'i quotes. I hope that they will help you more days then not... some days they help me and some days nothing helps me. Here is another one that some days helps: "Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation. In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you!" I understand what you say about your "spiritual ears" I call them my "spiritual eyes" and on the days when they are more open I feel much better because I can feel Franklin (my husband) with me but on the days when they are not open I feel terrible... I am still working on keeping them open all of the time. It seems to me that your Sharry was a very beautiful (physically) and is a very beautiful (spiritually)person. I hope things will get better for you!

  4. I have been looking through your blog this evening, after hearing you speak on Strangers today. I was very drawn to your story because I lost my son shortly after his birth three years ago, and I would have given anything for my fate to be traded with his and for him to have had a chance at life, instead of my having to continue without him. So, I know what it is like to go through profound grief and have to ask these very hard questions. I also read a lot of books during that first year! Why Bad Things Happen to Good People was one of my favorites, as well. I too am comforted by images of my son off at sea. I picture him protected by a turtle shell, diving down deep where I can't go. Someday I will be given my own shell and we will be together again, but for now I must wait.