Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My first time...

For some people it happens much earlier, sometimes even occurring during childhood.  For some it happens during a major life crisis that's easily identified as such, even by onlookers. For others it seems to never happen at all.  For me, it happened on a weekend in mid December 1991.  I was thirty-nine years old, my son was with his dad for the weekend, and I was to put the finishing touches to my undergraduate thesis, which needed to be complete to hand in on that next Tuesday, if I wanted to graduate with my class.

After so many years of wanting it, and an educational journey that had taken me to a total of six different colleges and universities, it finally seemed as if I was going to get my college degree! Eighteen months earlier I had enrolled in Geneva College's undergraduate degree program for 'non-traditional' students, those of us who hadn't managed to earn a college degree immediately after high school, were at least twenty-five years old, and had completed two years of college credits.  My class was an eclectic mix of ages, races, and socio-economic classes.

And that weekend it was all coming down to the wire.  For this particular program, in order to graduate, we all had to write the equivalent of a master's level research thesis. We worked on it across the entire eighteen months of the program, completing one part at a time, turning it in, getting it critiqued, rewriting and reworking it and then moving on to the next piece. I was down to my final rewrite when I sat down in front of the computer that Saturday morning.

This had been a difficult journey for me.  Because of old messages that were stuck in my psyche from my childhood, I'd had many challenges to overcome to get to this point. I was in therapy at the time, and luckily had a wonderful therapist, Sr. Bernadette, who had gotten me over the hurdles to this final point.  But this was Saturday morning, Sr. Bernadette wasn't available, and I had a deadline to meet. And I was STUCK!  Big time!!!

I sat in front of the computer and was unable to type a single word!  Those old messages were loud and strong: Do it right the first time or don't do it at all.  You're a failure, you're never going to amount to anything.  Why bother, you know you can't do it. Over and over, the old tapes played in my head.   I sat in front of the computer for the entire day, willing myself to just get it done, type something, anything. But nothing came.  I went to bed that night discouraged and dispirited, feeling that perhaps my mother was right after all, and I really was a failure.

The next morning, Sunday, my boyfriend, Ken, picked me up for church.  I'd never really liked going to church, never felt any kind of connection, but Ken was Catholic and went to church every Sunday, and I'd been raised Catholic and was expected to do the right thing, so I usually went with him. That morning it was a good excuse to get out of the house and away from the computer.

Ken attended a beautiful church that was built in the round.  There were stained glass windows that filtered the light in amazing ways, and a stained glass crucifix that hung over the central altar that always caught my attention as soon as I walked in.  The old priest that usually gave the sermon was funny and astute, and I usually found something of interest in what he had to say.  The rest of the mass was just, for me, something to get through before we went out to breakfast.

In the Catholic church it's customary to enter the church, find your pew, and kneel down to pray before actually taking your seat.  For me, this had always been a merely routine experience: recite a couple of Hail Mary's, a few Our Fathers, check to make sure that I'd spent enough time on my knees to be 'appropriate,' and then take my seat.  I went through the motions, that was it.

But this Sunday morning, something completely unexpected happened.  As I knelt to pray, I looked up at the crucifix and began to really speak to God, not just repeat memorized prayers from my catechism days, but speak from my heart.  "God, you know how much this degree means to me, how long I've wanted it, how hard I've worked. But I'm stuck. No matter what I did yesterday, I couldn't write a word.  I need help. So if you want me to get this degree, you need to write this thesis, because I can't."  As I finished speaking, I felt this wash of warm blue energy cover me from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet, as if someone had gently poured a bucket of something over me, and  I began to cry.

As I took my seat in the pew, Ken leaned over and quietly asked me what was wrong. I simply shrugged my shoulders and said I didn't know. I cried through the entire mass, a leaking of tears that seemed to have no end. 

When mass ended, Ken asked if I wanted to go to breakfast, but my deadline was looming so I shook my head and said I needed to get home to work on the thesis.  He dropped me off, I went in, changed clothes and sat down at the computer. The next thing I knew, it was hours later and I was standing beside the printer watching it spit out my finished thesis, all one hundred plus pages.  I don't remember typing. I don't remember eating or going to the bathroom. I don't remember anything from the time I sat down to start until I was watching the printer printing. 

That was my first time of knowing, truly knowing, without a doubt, that there was something greater than myself.  That 'something' had heard my prayers, heard my desperation, heard my plea, felt my surrender, and had answered. That Sunday morning in December 1991 was the conscious beginning of my spiritual journey. 


  1. God does have away of lifting us up in our time of needs. Bringing us strength, courage, wisdom, patients, happiness, joy and as you know, the list goes on. I know HE will continue to show you a clear path to follow. One that will heal you even more deeply then you have already had come to know. Within the photo of the beautiful sky is within it a promise. One God has said to me over a year ago, "Look up! Look up! See what I have for you!" As I looked up to the sky there was clouds with beautiful rays of sun beaming through the clouds. Just as in this photo. My life was at a stand point. Pain filled my heart and my soul. I did not know how to fix me. From that day, I knew I needed to change how I was looking at things. I knew I needed I needed helped. Within that message was, "Go light a candle for you and your family." "But where?" I asked "You know the church, you have been there before, we are with you," from a still small voice. He was right, I knew which church He was speaking of. I am not Catholic. I am Methodist. But the church that was shown to me was a Greek Catholic Church in Canonsburg. I have been there before. I went to a Greek Festival there. I was told... the doors are always open to the public. So... I went. Crying before I even got there. I never lit a candle for me and my family before. I was not sure if I would be allowed to light a candle there. But, I was reassured, I would have permission to do so. Just so happen I could not open up the front doors. I guess it was not to be? There were many cars there and I knew I had to find away to light a candle for me and my family. I did not knew what to do so I prayed, "God, if this is what I am to do, please send me help. I have never done this and I am not sure how to go about lighting a candle. Is a special way to do it?" I was sobbing with tears of waterfalls. Just then a woman walk out of the building. She came right to me and ask if she could help me. I explained my story to her. She took me into the church through the lower level doors. Once we were in the sanctuary, she showed me what I could do. Long story short... I lit a candle for me and my family. Crying deeply as I looked to the stain glass window in front of me, praying for me and my family. Then a gentleman stood beside me. "Can I help you?" he ask. Again I explained my story to him. He took me to the front of the sanctuary before Jesus. "Jesus will hear your prayers and can help you. Prayer to him?" I did pray to myself to Jesus. As I was praying to Jesus, the gentleman starting praying out loud every single word I had just spoken in silence. I turned to him and said, "How did you know what I was praying for? You spoke every word I just said in silence to Jesus." "Because God knows what we need before we even ask Him. It is His way of letting you know He is listening. Your prayers will be answered." God did hear me and has answered my prayers since then. That is how I came to know of Angels, Reiki, joy of reading books shown to me and healing within. Still healing but I know I am not alone, ever. So now when I see the sun rays coming through the clouds, it is a reminder, I AM HERE... YOU ARE NOTE ALONE, TALK TO ME, I WILL LISTEN. Powerful message to me and to us all.

    1. What a beautiful story, Rebecca. Thank you for sharing it. God reaches out to us in just the perfect way.