My name is Brendan. I’m 56 years old. I live in the UK with my partner Terry of 17 years. I work in the field of palliative care as a psychotherapist.
There are three things I have come to terms with in the past three years which are inextricably linked: acknowledging I had undiagnosed ADD (possibly ADHD) as a child and adolescent; understanding my gifts of profound intuition which often caused me feel highly-sensitised to life and its energies, and finally realising that I have never really felt that I belonged anywhere, especially not within organised Christianity. 11 years ago began a process of peaking in my consciousness which lead me into a stormy and wonderfully messy experience over these past 11 years. I’d like to share some of my journey with other misfits, who may also feel that they too have never belonged anywhere. In truth, we don’t belong in one place. We belong everywhere, as I learned recently from wisdom authors and teachers, Maya Angelou and Brene’ Brown
11 years ago my spiritual journey was expanding beyond my past fractious relationship with Roman Catholicism. My journey was moving into something very different and outside of organised religion. Being gay, the Catholic Church was something I both loved and hated. I wanted the church to accept me unconditionally. It was a complicated attachment to an inconsistent parent in which I would inevitably end up feeling ‘not good enough’ and not belonging. This had resonances with experiences of my childhood.
My work in the field of palliative care had broken down my defences with the Catholic Church around 2009 to 2010 and took me into the realm of spirituality beyond organised religion. I took workshops in Shamanism, started delving into A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and other alternative forms of spirituality. Much of what was happening, was however, being inadvertently lead by my hurt and wounded ego, which had not done the work of metabolising and integrating my experience. This was an understandable reactive state based upon past experiences of un-affirming spirituality. This new phase was based upon a need to establish ‘my way’ and be in control. However this all came crashing down in 2013. I was pulled back into my Roman Catholic faith. There was a deep unconscious need to be loved and wanted by the Church which I had not fully worked with and it’s magnetism took me unawares. I ended up buying into all the self-rejecting ideas of the Church which I had wisely pushed away for the for most of my adult life.
Terry and I bought a second home in the village of Walsingham in 2014 which is is a place dedicated to Mother Mary. This phase of my life became an experience of internalized spiritual self-rejection. It lasted until about 2016. I realised in 2016 that this was an extreme manifestation of something un-healed, connected to my history and needed to be looked at. Between 2013 to 2016 I had become deeply neurotic with feelings of unworthiness and not being good enough and with a renewed sense of not belonging. I thankfully evolved into more liberal Catholic Christianity. I engaged with the work of people like Fr Richard Rohr and Thomas Merton. I studied for a Masters Degree in Theology, writing a dissertation specializing in spirituality and trauma. I transitioned into Anglicanism for a short time as part of this journey but moved back into Catholicism again, but not for long. I discovered the gift of Franciscan spirituality and non-duality in 2017, but with a very different mind than in 2011. This became a pathway to founding the Dispersed Franciscan Community of Our Lady of Compassion in 2018. I started developing an interest in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy through people like Jack Kornfield. I trained in a new psychotherapy called Compassion Focused Therapy which is rooted in western psychology, evolutionary biology and Buddhist teachings on compassionate mindfulness. I came to understand that for me, being formally Catholic wasn’t ever really going to work for me. What I have now is a relationship with mystical Christianity within both an Eastern and Western framework. I have deep gratitude for this to the New Monasticism, Fr Richard Rohr, Abishiktananda (Henri de Saux), Teilhard de Chardin, the late Bro Wayne Teasdale. Nothing is rejected in this framework. Everything from the journey is sacred. I call this experience of metabolising and integration Dynamic Spiritual Synthesis.
Since lockdown began in March 2020, I re-familiarised myself with the work of spiritual teacher Miranda Macpherson and the teachings of Vedanta. I read ‘The Way of Grace’ and listened to her CD’s called Meditations on Boundless Love. These were an immense blessing in fully metabolising and integrating all the spiritual and psychological wisdom I have gained through life’s journey.
The world after COVID 19 needs grace filled compassionate spirituality. In many ways many of us have been turned inside out by the past year. We need our hearts to experience gentleness and compassion.
The journey of life was never meant to be a neat linear pathway. It is curved, circular, sometimes with repeating patterns, in and out, and up and down. If you have never felt that you belong or fit in, this is OK. You were never meant to fit into a box, but to belong everywhere. You are a free spirit, born to spread your wings widely and to soar upwards.