Sharon Holloway

It was the fear of death and dying that motivated my spiritual search. I was 20 when my father had a heart attack and I came face to face with mortality. I remember wishing I ‘believed’ in something, something that would console me, reassure me and allay my fears; something that would bring understanding to the mystery of life and death, of living and dying. I came to understand, however, that ‘belief’ in something wasn’t deep enough for the profundity of the questions I wanted answers to: who am I? Who/what is God? Who is the ‘other’? How am I to live and prepare for the inevitability of my own passing and that of everything and everyone I love?

I discovered, likewise, that it wasn’t ‘belief’ that would address the growing fire in my heart and its impulse to come into union with Divine Being itself. A steadfast commitment to this end was initially inspired by the teachings of the Christian women mystics and their love for their God-man, Jesus. This inspiration was deepened by the Sufi poets and their mystical poetry about the inebriation of the ‘wine’ served up by the Beloved and offered to the Lover without the need for cups or wine glasses. I drew particular inspiration from Rumi when in a poem he had a Lover of God say, “I would love to kiss You,” and wrote the Beloved’s response as, “the price of kissing is your life.” The poem concludes with the Lover assuring his life, “what a bargain! Let’s buy it!” 

I entered into such a bargain with Love, stepping into the Way of the Heart. I offered up my ‘self’ with its patterns and preferences in the hope that the promise of Freedom, Love and Ecstatic Being might be fulfilled in me. The challenge of the last two decades would have been impossible without the firm underpinning of a meditation practice and, in particular, without the many silent meditation retreats I’ve attended each year, following in the Way of the Buddha. I have a deep love of Zen and its teaching stories, its ability to deliver on the Buddha’s promise of clear seeing into our True Nature if we simply commit and do the sitting practice.

I have lived through the conventional requirements of being a dutiful daughter. I was educated, I married, I had children. I was convinced that fulfillment would come from these roles and from working long hours trying to climb the corporate ladder. The size of my paycheque was the measure of my self-worth. All this fell away over time as I followed the real yearning at the core of my being. It has not been without heartbreak, pain, sadness and difficulty as both internal and external changes reoriented my life. Neither has it been without divine guidance, deep grace, growing freedom from ‘ties that bind’ and a growing inner certitude that I have learned to trust more fully over time.

Along the way I graduated from a three year experiential program called Living Spirit that explored the stages of soul development and introduced me to silent meditation retreats. I followed this with a three year program at the Transpersonal Therapy Centre in Toronto graduating with a certificate in transpersonal therapy skills. Shortly thereafter I enrolled in and completed a two year Spiritual Direction training program learning the art of helping to guide others in their spiritual exploration.

I’m deeply grateful to the Way of the Buddha and the Way of the Heart that, in tandem, have ‘saved a soul like me’. Love calls me continually deeper and beyond the limits of my own imagination and understanding of who I am and what ‘This’ is. My joy comes from loving God and sharing this love with others.