Many people have asked me how and why I became an Interfaith Minister, so here's the story:
It was the first time I had ever had such a powerful experience of "knowing." In late 2003, I was reading an e-mail from James Twyman, the author, movie maker and "Peace Troubador". I had subscribed to his "list" after a friend kept forwarding his notices to me. When I read about the Seminary of Spiritual Peacemaking that he was founding to create Interfaith "Peace Ministers", I sat at my computer and cried. I now recognize this as one of my visceral reactions to a Truth, with a capital "T"! I also get "goose bumps" on a smaller scale, but the tears are how I now recognize an important message in my life.
After reading about the Seminary, I KNEW that I had to participate. I certainly was not looking to add anything to my very busy life. I had a new marriage (5 months), a new career (in real estate, after being a homemaker and at-home mother for 20 years), and two sons, 19 and 9 years old. When I told my husband of my plans to enroll in this two year program to earn my Masters in Divinity, he was less than pleased and not very supportive. I knew in my heart that this was "my call" and that it was critical for me to pursue if I were to fulfill my life purpose. There was no decision - I would just have to find a way to fit it in, which I did. Sadly, my seminary program and ordination contributed to the ending of our marriage several years later. I knew I had to be true to myself and answer this call or I would always regret it. I am grateful that my ex-husband happily remarried 1.5 years after we separated.
The program was a rich and deep offering of weekly online lessons, reading, conference calls, personal mentoring with one of the Seminary Coaches (the wonderful Laura Derocher was my coach), and retreats in Ashland, Oregon where our Seminary and Sanctuary are. I have met so many amazing people from all over the world and continue to find it very meaningful and inspiring. We now have over 600 Peace Ministers in 23+ countries with new Ministers being ordained several times per year. You can learn more at: http://www.emissaryoflight.com/ We no longer have a two year M.Div. program, only a 3+ month "Fast Track" program which ends in ordination.
During the first year we studied one attribute each month from our Emissary Wheel, the sacred geometry symbol for our seminary - literally a portal for transformation. You can see it and learn more about it here: http://www.belovedworld.org/tpm_emissarywheel.html
Those attributes are abundance, agape, courage, patience, wisdom, certainty, compassion, joy, clarity, understanding, depth and generosity. We wrote and discussed how we could each exemplify these and how they relate to Inner Peace.
The second year of the Seminary was devoted to discovering how we might take our Ministry out into the world. We each were required to complete a Peace Project. Being a business woman, I was inspired to create a new kind of business networking group in my hometown of Bellingham, WA. Our group was based on principles of collaboration and abundance rather than competition and lack. I named it the "Prosperity Professionals Network" or PPN. We met every Friday morning from 7 - 8:30 for about three years! What a wonderful group it turned into. After our weekly meeting, many of us would go to breakfast together. People came from as far away as Langley, B.C.! We had between 10 and 20 people every week with one educational presentation by a person in the group (or a guest) and introductions where we each got to give a brief description of our business and what we were looking for as far as clients, help, resources, etc. We had no limit in any categories - all were welcome. I am still in touch with many of the people I met during this time. We really bonded and learned so much from one another!
I was ordained at a retreat in Oregon in June, 2005 and earned my Masters in Divinity the following year when I finished all of the course requirements. I began doing weddings in 2006 and added Memorial Services in 2010. I enjoy helping people in times of life transitions.
At retreats I met people who had well developed ways of "knowing" or gnosis. This is a term often associated with the early Christian Mystics who communicated directly with God (the I AM Presence, "All That Is", Spirit, or whatever name you choose to give it.) Some people would hear voices or sounds (clairaudience) and some would see visions (clairvoyance) and some would have feelings (clairsentient.) I was envious of these rather concrete methods of knowing and wondered if I'd ever be able to experience this. It wasn't until I read a fascinating book by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. (author of 47 books), about the different ways of "knowing" that I learned about my own way - claircognizant. Claircognizance (clear knowing) is a metaphysical sense in which you know something to be correct but may be unable to back up your statement with fact or how you came into that information. At first I didn't trust my own "knowing", but over time I have learned to trust. One tool I have used as a visual cue is the pendulum. You can learn more about how to use one in the book: Pendulum Magic for Beginners: Power to Achieve All Goals by Richard Webster. Now that I have achieved more confidence in my "knowing" I use the pendulum less often, but still consult it for clarity at times.
My first "mystical" experience was in 2007 on a trip through France with my husband and about 35 others from my Seminary to Sacred Sites connected with St. Mary Magdalene. We were a 45 minute walk up a hillside in S. France in the cave at St. Baume where Mary Magdalene had lived for the last 33 years of her life (now a chapel run by several Benedictine Monks). I was sitting in the lower part of the cave in front of a gorgeous white, marble statue of her with candles lit all around her. (Photo: http://www.whale.to/b/GrottoofMaryMagdelena443.jpg) Suddenly I realized that she and Jeshua were with me...and I began to cry. I felt their powerful love and presence engulfing me. They instructed me to jump off of a cliff (in my mind's eye where I was with them...), and I refused. They asked me if I trusted them and I assured them that I did, after all, they were my Spirit Guides, along with Archangel Michael and St. Germain. Again, they instructed me to jump off of the cliff. Again, I said no! After feeling their love and understanding where they were going with this, I finally acquiesced thinking, "if I can't trust Mary Magdalene and Jeshua, who can I trust?" As I leaped off of the cliff in my inner vision, my fear disappeared and my WINGS UNFURLED!! I was blown away. By this time I was sobbing......and feeling so full of love and trust in God and my Guides. I am SO grateful!!
So, I have learned to trust my "knowing" and my Spirit Guides implicitly. It is not always easy or popular. Sometimes it means losing friendships or having to withstand judgement. My heart knows that it is always for the Highest Good, and so I surrender to this Universal Wisdom. I am grateful for this journey and I thank you for walking it with me.