12/24/99 – I ran away from Kansas City to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (BSPA). I sought contemplation; but immediately reverted to 4 years of people pleasing in order to get approved to stay. Everyone was worried about Y2K; but I was smug having left the world.
2000 – Lived as a volunteer with the BSPA at Sand Springs until September when I became a postulant and moved to Clyde.
2001 – 2002 – I finished one year of postulancy and began a 2 year novitiate. Somewhere in here, we had 9/11, Enron and the start of the Iraq war. I was smug about the financial disaster because I assumed I was safe in the monastery and guaranteed 3 hots and a cot for life. Reading "A Cave in the Snow" about Tiensin Palmo, I realized that eating meat affects the contemplative life; so I immediately gave up all meat and have not ate a scrap of it since then.
2003 – I completed the two year novitiate and got kicked out of the monastery the day before vows. The day before getting kicked out, I had a spiritual experience of an extraordinary variety whose message was: Love is the predominant mode of existence. The day after getting kicked out, in tears, I asked God, “Why me? Why do I have to leave?” He said, “Because you can deal with the hassles of life while still being contemplative and noticing my Presence. I need someone out here who can do that.” Driving away from the monastery, I realized how deeply I wanted monastic profession to validate me as a worthwhile person. Hence I began a journey of self value not tied to any authority. I moved back to KC and got a job at Panera as a cashier (talk about humility, a professional engineer working at a bagel place). I was active in St Therese parish with RCIA and Befriender’s. Rose was my spiritual guide. I also went to H&R Block tax school and reconnected with Compliance Engineering (part time).
2004 – During the winter, I worked as a tax preparer along with working at Panera and Compliance Engineering. I hated Camden apartment and bought a duplex in Chapel Woods. In October, I started work at MGP. God gave my environmental engineering career back. I cannot argue with this vocation. I have been a licensed Professional Engineer since I was 25, but never recognized it as my "profession."
2005 – Working at MGP. I was struggling with church authority and lust for Fr Mike; who kept putting his hands in places that agitated and confused me. In October, I bought the house in Atchison. I also walked out of church and didn’t go back. I began a solitary struggle with self. I worked through Catholic guilt, practiced fasting, sat on a cushion several hours a day and worked at becoming a solitary Essene.
2006 – Working at MGP. I heard of 3,100 Self Transcendence race and Suprabha Beckjord. I immediately upped my mileage and started running marathons and ultra-marathons. I wanted to find enlightenment in ultra-running.
2007 – Still working at MGP. Running a lot. Discovered A Course in Miracles (ACIM) in July. Fired Rose in September. I credit ACIM with so much emotional progress over the 2 ½ years I have worked with the material. I am not done with my journey but am light years from where I was at as I drove away from the monastery.
2008 – Still working at MGP. Broke my arm in March. Had surgery 3 times. Got a new car. Letting go of Christianity as a religion, it seemed like a massive people pleasing project. I have no problem relating to Jesus my Friend, the Holy Spirit my Teacher and Christ as the mystical divine being, the Son of God of which all humans are.
2009 – Turned 50. Ran a marathon in 3:57 (under 4 hours for the first time in my life). Worked at MGP until June. Laid off for nearly 3 months. Ran an average of 20 miles a day during my layoff. Sorted through my mental and spiritual baggage. Got a new job at Bayer starting in September: Senior Process Safety Engineer. Apartment in KC. Sold the Atchison house. Went to Germany. Bought a new Prius.
- I still get agitated over BSPA. My ego hates that I don’t get to wear the nun credentials on my sleeve.
- I still seek to know God deeper. God has been my quest for all my adult life and I consider myself dedicated to spirituality.
- I run as much as I want. I have the ethos of an athlete, despite never being elite at any sport. The qualities of character which make someone a world class athlete run rampant in me. I have to really watch what I eat.
- I still fear what others think of me and I am a fearful person. Despite magnificent spirituality and emotional growth, I feel like a loser.
- Having spent the past ten years marginalizing myself from ordinary life. I can no longer relate to other people. I still feel under-currents of hate for the unconscious normal people and continuously take my inventory, giving such ill feelings to Jesus.
- I still seek wisdom in solitude. I have an ethos of guilt for my alternative lifestyle (running, contemplative solitude and A Course in Miracles).
- When I remember (and/or decide), I can connect with the Presence of Love; as well as see the Face of Christ in others. I am a person more blessed with the Presence than anyone I have ever met; yet I still hear my ego hammering away at me.
So be it! Life is.