Conversations With God

In this section, I am going to tell you about two books, one of which, I believe, literally saved my life.  Both of them have had enormous influence in my life and I'll be talking about one or the other in my blog, often a post will start with a quote from one of those two books upon which I will comment, share what is in me about it.  They are Conversations With God, books 1 and 2, by Neale Donald Walsch.

What I want to tell you about here, is how I came to them, or more truthfully, how they came to me.  I had become a member of that church I found across the street from my health club, the one with the outdoors service, in September, 1996, a couple weeks after Brandon had come home.  I didn't feel "home" there, but I really liked the head pastor, felt a connection with him and felt it was the right place for me to be at that time. 
When Brandon died, for several months I had been reading this book, in an effort still to quell my anxiety, over and over, by a Roman Catholic theologian, Andrew Hodges,  called Jesus: An Interview Across Time, where he asked questions and had Jesus answer them in modern terms.  Still very much fear-based, like most religions, but nicer than what I was raised with, in some ways.  And my re-reading it was my way of trying to find spiritual peace within.

But when Brandon died, I could find NO comfort in that book any longer, no comfort in anything I had ever been taught or had read.  Two weeks to the day after Brandon died, I was back at work, and I honestly don't think I was more than a couple weeks away from joining him myself, I was so lifeless inside, so bereft, so distraught. That day, 2/25/97, I went to this little bookstore a block from my work in downtown Minneapolis.  It was arranged in kiosk's sort of, a set of four down each side of it, with a pathway in the middle, the kiosks were like < >, with each of those inner tines being bookshelves.  As I went into the store, I said a little prayer asking Jesus to help me, that if there was anything in there that could give me comfort, to please show it to me.  So I walked down that center aisle, and I just felt moved, almost directed, and I turned into one of those kiosks, one I had never been in, it was New Age.  As I walked into it, on the shelves directly opposite me one book was turned sideways right at my eye level.  Conversations With God, Book 1.  Well, I thought to myself, THAT is exactly who I want to talk to, I want God to TELL me what the hell happened, why it happened.  So I just took the book, paid for it and took it home with me.  I went down into the basement of my townhouse, where Brandon and I had spent so much time and I started reading it and after a few pages I was just incensed!  It was pure blasphemy, honestly, I half expected I might get hit by a lightning bolt right down there.  I left it on the table down there and I went upstairs but I just couldn't keep my thoughts away from it.  So I decided, okay, I WILL read it, but just to find out what the enemies of God were thinking.  So I could be a better Christian.  But as I read it, I discovered the Truth.  I could have written that book.  The thoughts and ideas in it were not new to me.  They were as familiar to me as if I had known them forever.  And, in a way, I have.  Neale gave credit in the prologue to a number of authors, people whose work had influenced his life, I'd read most of those, some were among my favorites, and whose works had formed the core of my own inner view of the world.  This wasn't blasphemy at all, it was the God I always knew was out there.  One who loved and loved alone, unconditionally, all the time.  We're going to talk about those concepts in the blog quite a bit.  But right here and now, I urge each of you, to head right on over to Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, or your own local bookstore, buy them and read them.  You'll find your own truth there.  Or you wouldn't be here now.  

I need to give you a little more history here, just for background.  I was raised Lutheran, as I said earlier, growing up on a farm in the middle of Minnesota, the middle of nowhere really.  I'm the oldest of three kids and there is no one else in my family like me at all. They're wonderful people, salt of the earth, kind, loving people, but not like me, though I am all those things too.  I am completely of Swedish heritage on both sides of my family.  My dad missed being born in Sweden by months, my mothers family came here a couple generations before she was born but both her parents were second generation, born in this country, Swedes.  My dad was raised in the Red River Valley about as far north as you can get and still be in Minnesota, literally a few miles from Canada.  My mom and dad met in Minneapolis, after WWII, two farm kids looking for a new life and finding it in each other.  As I said earlier, the farm I grew up on adjoined my maternal grandparent's farm, so I saw them virtually every day of my life till I went in the Army, they were wonderful people, my refuge when I was angry with my parents, they enjoyed a loving marriage of 66 years before my grandma passed.  Lutheran's all of them, lol.  My mom's family literally built the small church I was baptized and went to Sunday School in. They were part of the founding group of that church, Siloa Lutheran.  Their original business, besides farming, was operating a saw mill and they cut the lumber and built the church.  My grandma and mom both were Sunday School teachers and my first book was a full-sized children's bible, ALL of the stories there, but in kid language and with pictures.  I grew up steeped in the Lutheran religion.  I really did not know other traditions existed.  I mean, I knew about CATHOLICS of course, giggle.  Heathens like that, lol, but only peripherally to my own experience.  And I knew about yoga - but I thought that was just an exercise routine and it was literally all I knew about Eastern traditions.  Sheltered?  Yes, I guess, in a way, there were no minorities in my world, just Scandinavian farmers and townspeople.  But there are no coincidences in this life either, and where, and how I was raised, is exactly how it needed to be.  We'll talk more about that later too.  

So any understanding or knowledge of alternative forms of religion, let alone spirituality, had never even crossed my mind.  That there WERE alternatives to what I was raised with had just never occurred to me.  Not until an alternative had to find its way to me, when after my son's death, I could find no peace in anything I knew or had known.   I wasn't a religious "freak" either, I rarely attended church, I had most of my life wandered in and out of religion, because I just couldn't "buy" it, I just couldn't reconcile all that blood and gore and thou shalt nots with the loving God, ministers talked about on Sunday mornings, who really did love us but only if we were "good".   It wasn't easy to avoid religion with my family growing up, believe me, but I was the kid who asked the annoying questions.  I have always been spiritual, I never really had a choice about that, the lightsA quester, always.  Not unlike Jodie Foster's character in Contact.  I wanted to know things too, like if there was only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel in existence, when Cain killed Abel, how did he get exiled with his wife?  I mean where the hey did SHE come from.  So, you can see why I had trouble all my life buying that whole spiel.  But fear keeps you believing, sort of, just in case that crap is true.  But, of course, every religion makes that part of its pitch.  THEY have the truth and no one else does and if you don't buy it, you go to hell.  Fear-based living isn't really living at all.  I'd leave the church for years, but I always came back when some crisis would hit, like my divorce, like the fear that gripped me so tightly in 1996, like Brandon's death.  It wasn't that I was an atheist or anything, I have always believed there was more to the universe than an accident.  There is too much organization in the natural universe for it to be an accident.  I knew something created it, I've always "known" that, I just didn't know what.  And I never could make myself believe that a God who could create such beauty and such love in a place like this wonderful, teeming with life, planet He gave us to live on, could be so cold-hearted and small as the Old Testament made Him seem.  How could a loving being instruct one people to take the land of another people and kill them all, every man, woman and child?  How could He love His children but cast them into eternal torment if they didn't follow His every directive to the letter?  I just could NOT buy all that.  We'll talk about that a LOT in the blog, trust me.  

When Brandon died, I turned off my home phone.  I didn't really talk to anyone but work people and my son Evan for a year.  I sat there at home in the dark, reading and re-reading Book 1.  In May that year, Book 2 came out, I bought it the day it arrived at Barnes and Noble, and started alternating it with Book 1.  I read book 1 more than 20 times that next year, book 2 more than a dozen times.  In January 1998, I was finally ready to rejoin the world at large.  I got my phone turned back on, went online and looked for people who knew about CWG.  I was an AOL person back then, dial up, giggle.  So I started looking there.  I found a discussion group, joined them, made an introductory post and got back in return this huge mail with a big list of rules.  Now, I have never been very good with rules.  I have always had this idea that I make my own rules - you'll find out a lot more about that side of me in the ANSIR story.  I pay attention to those the world at large makes only when it suits my purposes or when not doing so will cause me more trouble than I want to deal with.  :^).  That entire list was full of "thou shalt NOT" stuff.  You could only talk about the books, no personal stuff, no life experiences, nothing else.  Too many rules, it felt unfriendly, and the CWG books are nothing if not friendly.  So I unsubscribed immediately.  But, my intro post got noticed by a wonderful woman who was starting her own list at place called Spiritweb and she sent me an email inviting me to join them.  I did. The only rule there was be nice. That list talked about everything, the books, of course, but the books are about life, so all of life was open for discussion, and we talked it about it all.  It was a wonderful place.  I said things there I never dared say aloud.  It was years before I ever said any of those things to anyone in person.  I learned so much there.  I remembered so much.  There were about 500 people on the list but most were what we called "lurkers", reading but never posting.  Which was perfectly okay, as I said elsewhere I'd get a letter once in a while from someone who didn't post but felt what I had said helped, or touched them in some way.  We had probably 100 or more people who actively posted.  About then, a year, after Brandon's death, I lost the ability to sleep.  I would fall asleep like always but wake after three or four hours, so I was a prolific participant on that list, giggle.  Bet no one reading this far would have suspected THAT huh? :^).  I talked about a lot, Brandon, my other son, Evan, life, growing up, single parenting, living life.  We were really one big family there.  We became so close.  Truthfully, they were closer to me than anyone in the "real" world.  I told them things I never dared tell anyone.  They freed my soul.  The books freed my soul.  Neale's conversations freed my soul.

I began posting there in February that year, I met a lot of wonderful people, there were people from all around the world there, from virtually every religious, non-religious, and spiritual tradition.   What we all had in common was the powerful effect in our lives that Neale Donald Walsch and his two marvelous books had on us.  We shared our lives, our pasts, our present and we shared our experiences of the books.  We talked about them in every way, from what we loved to what we didn't, to what we agreed with and why, to what we didn't and why.  It was a wonderful, healing time for me.  It was June before I dared tell them about my inner voice, she who I am going to introduce you to in the next story.  It was later that summer, August, when I posted about the three light experiences.  I hoped to find someone else who had them, I wanted to talk to anyone who had experienced them too.  No one there had, nor had anyone heard of them.
  I've been looking a very long time and have not yet found anyone who has had them too.  I talked about them a lot with my friends on the Spiritweb list.  

I'm going to talk a lot more about Books 1 and 2 on the blog section.  And I may yet write another story or two here about them.  For now, though, what I want to say, is that they are the most marvelous presentation of the spirit, the TRUTH, of God, that I have ever seen.  I have read widely since those days and have yet to find anything remotely approaching the truth and wisdom in those two books.  I guess I AM going to have to add a story here about them specifically.  This story is really just about how I found them, more accurately, how THEY found me.  What they say, what they mean, the truth they are, I may want to put in a section of its own, eventually.  Before I go any further though, there is someone I want you all to meet.  She's the subject of this next story.  I introduced her to the Spiritweb list in June, 1998.  Then, after that story, I'm going to introduce you to a tool, a free tool, for anyone, and everyone, which no longer exists but which I wish were still available tol give you a way to know yourself better than you ever imagined possible.  I believe that it is only when we fully understand ourselves, that we can begin to understand others, and understanding others is the key to loving them.  And that is why we are all here, to love each other.  

Then, I'm going to tell you a story about East meets West, and by that I meet Eastern tradition slams itself into Western farm boy without warning.  It is fair to say, that every event in my most ordinary life, every extraordinary event, has led me to this place and this time.  Here to meet and talk with anyone led to find me here.  I have a lot to say.  I hope you will stay for a while and talk with me.  I think we have gifts for each other.  What precisely those are, we'll discover along the way.  So, now, let's talk about this wonder named Jenna.