The Three Great Spiritual Questions

Photo courtesy of Felicia Buitenwerf at Unsplash

In the book “Inheritance”, author Dani Shapiro is asked by an acupuncturist if she is familiar with the three great spiritual questions.  As I read through this chapter, it made me wonder if other people had wondered about these questions.

I do not think I ever consciously asked these questions of myself. I suppose in many ways, I have found the answers throughout my life without fully engaging thought about the question itself. Then I wondered if the answers change throughout our lives.

In researching my own family tree, I found a few surprises. I discovered I am not related to a cousin I have known my whole life. That immediately poses questions as to the parental line of one or both of us. I remember feeling a shock to my body to even contemplate that my father is not my father. It unhinges everything in your life. After my brother processed his own DNA, I now know we are full brother and sister, and realized this unknown parentage is further back in my line somewhere. It was a relief. Not that it would change anything about how I felt about my father. What it changes is what you have always known to be the truth.

So back to the questions. Is there a reason to come to this level of understanding? To acknowledge who we are in the universe and why we even exist at all. Do we all have a purpose? I imagine many people in this world live their entire life without once ever considering the question, let alone the answer.

I think these questions become important anytime we are faced with major struggles in our life. I know early on in the pandemic, I often wondered “what if this is it?” Could I be satisfied with the life I have led? In actuality, life is volatile – capable of disappearing in a wisp at any given time. Perhaps the pandemic has made me more appreciative of my life.

So what are the questions? Have you ever considered any or all of them and have you found the answers? Are they questions we all face?

Who am I?

Why am I here?

How shall I live?

My father often talked about prayer, being a devout Christian. He often talked about the way in which prayers are answered and  that the answer to a prayer is sometimes a simple “No”.  I was very moved by this quote from Ms. Shapiro’s book.

“God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers, And thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face, A gauntlet with a gift in it.”

As my mother often said to me, “Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.”

More food for thought.


Performing Without a Net

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Day 282

Ever heard someone say “you’re more like your mother/father every day” or something similar? Do you ever sit back and wonder if you are like your parents? Does that make you happy or does it create anxiety?

There is much about us that is passed down through our DNA — some scientists even think trauma alters our DNA and can be passed through generations. If science proves such a theory, it is hard to fathom what that may mean for countless innocent children.

I do think there is a part of us that develops through experience and exposure — both good and bad. Maybe through such experience, we form our own internal voice, our gut, that alarms us when things head in a bad direction. I think it is also the part of us that separates us or binds us, to our parents.

After my first child was born, my father lovingly told me I looked just like my mom after their first child was born. I could see it was a warm and beautiful memory for him. I took it as a compliment. I always thought my mom was beautiful and loving and kind.

As I have aged, however, I realize how far apart I am from my parents’ thinking. As much as I loved and respected them, there are areas in which we differ tremendously. I am able to easily reject ideas they had about certain things that do not fit with my way of thinking. I am sure changes in social mores also have a lot to do with altering the way we perceive things. I sometimes wonder what my mother would think about the woman I have become.

Yesterday, my daughter called me. I answered and she responded by telling me how much just the sound of my voice soothed her. That made me smile. I always want to be a comfort to my children. I stopped for a moment to see if I could recall the sound of my mother’s voice in my mind. It is harder now than it once was, but it is still there.

All the years we spend in this life are practice for becoming… And becoming is always unfurling. I am content with my life and I realize that throughout all the good and the bad, I have been practicing for the day I could perform without a net.

No parents to catch me when I fall now, but hopefully, all the years of practice have made me steadier on my feet. A little braver and a little more confident.

I am my parent’s daughter. I have inherited traits that are undeniable. But I have also become a different person, separate from them. And as much as I love my parents and all they taught me, I am happy to be this transformed little girl that they brought into this world. I believe they would be proud of me.

I hope my children will develop beyond me, too. I have always been proud to be their safety net. Now I want to sit back and watch them fly.

“My parents blessed me with directives to think,
to be aware of my choices and their repercussions.
They were always trying to teach me how to think,
rather than what to think.”
Cathy Burnham Martin