The Enlightened One

“You have no bucket, and the well is deep.” John 4:11

“Jesus is God but God is not Jesus.” –My 4-year-old daughter, Izzy.


Spiritual seekers are like the Samaritan woman who goes daily to the well, trying to fill up her bucket with water.

We try this, and we try that, and we see what this or that will do, all so that we may find greater wholeness.

We take classes, and we read books. And we’re still thirsty.

As women, we often look to men. “Here is my bucket,” we say. “Can you fill it up?”

A human being is not going to fill your bucket, the bucket you carry from here to there. That wholeness exists right within you, in the living, breathing presence of God within your heart.

But the well is deep, as the Samaritan woman says. It is so deep we cannot even begin to fathom it. We need someone to help us get there: a guru, an enlightened one.

I have sat with so many spiritual teachers. They abound. They’re all over the place, speaking through podcasts and writing books and offering classes at churches and synagogues and Buddhist centers. Oprah interviews them on Sundays. (Except that episode with Bradley Cooper. What was that about?) These teachers are trying, just like you, to make sense of it all.

But the Teacher, the greatest Teacher of all, lies within you. The water you may drink and never become thirsty is right there, flowing in and around your heart. Flowing all through your body. You are a being made of light, who was born into darkness.

You need some way to tap into the well. Someone who has been there. Someone who has seen. Someone who came before and can guide you. Someone you know is wholly good, and who will protect you and keep you safe when you plunge into the waters of the spiritual world.

There are a lot of spirits out there. I witnessed this firsthand. I had a weird, messed-up, kundalini, mania-awakening experience I wasn’t expecting, which showed me how people with tender hearts can get pulled in to darkness and destruction if we’re not careful. We can let shadows overtake our minds. There are spirits out there who want a home. They want to take root in something. And they’re pretty selfish, too, so they’ll just possess you when you’re in the midst of searching. They’ll lead you this way and that. They’ll say, This is a sign! Do this, now! And drive there. And say that.

They have a lot of fun making you their puppet.

It was only through the depths of despair, in fighting to fend them off, in tiring myself out completely, that I found the only Spirit I could trust, the One would help me on my path to wholeness, who would make me never thirst.

He is gentle. He never invades. He simply waits until you ask.

And when you stop caring about what it all looks like, about who you’ll become, about what other people will think, and you finally, miserably ask him to come in to help, he comes in an instant. You are like an animal in the rubble of your life, buried by all of the stones, and he reaches out his hand, and he lifts you up.

It is not home you find, but heaven.

And he will guide you every step of the way. No matter what you did or thought in the past. No matter what beliefs you’ve held onto. No matter what you look like, or how damaged you think you are. Nothing is too dark for his Love to take hold.

And he changes you from the inside, little girl. Gently. He is the Great Master of your soul, who knows you better than you know yourself. And he cares for you the way a kind, pure, and gentle man cares for a wounded bird. And he nurses you so that you can fly.

He really wants you to fly.

It makes no sense for me to say all this. I grew up without religion. I lost myself in books, in fiction, in novels. They were my only escape, my only safe haven. I went to college and I got a Master’s degree and I taught kids and adults about critical thinking, about how to write an essay with a thesis statement and support. I praised rationality and reading between the lines. I praised intellectual frameworks for reading—Feminist criticism, and Marxism, and Postmodernism. And I encouraged my students to write concluding paragraphs that made their ideas form into a nice, neat package. I praised thinking, above all.

And I am not against thinking. Thinking has its place. We need to work things out in our minds, plan ahead, figure out next steps on our journeys in life. We have to do our jobs and bring home money so we can pay the rent and feed the kids.

But all my thinking didn’t help me when I was in a mental hospital, or when I woke up every morning feeling like I wanted to die.

I needed a cleanser, a healer. Someone to protect me while I meditated and prayed, while I cried on the floor, while I sought out things, over and over again, that were not serving me. I thought I knew, but I did not always know right from wrong.

And what about the men who do such wrongs in the name of the Savior?

I don’t know their hearts. I am not God. But there are always going to be Judases. The Judases, who think they know best, who put Love on the chopping block. The Peters, who deny.

But there are also the Marys. The Marys, who say, Yes, God, use me. They say, Yes, God, I will carry you into this world so that you may spread the message of love. They say, Yes God, I will do my part to help your people become whole. 

The Marys are no less than any of the other apostles. They are, if I am to be bold, even More. They do their work quietly, in the shadows. They wear those crosses around their necks, or lotuses, or gems and stones or beads, and they give love. They give love through their words, through their bodies, through the kindness in their touch.

The Marys are our sacred messengers.

It is the Marys’ time to be bold, to step out. The Marys’ time to dip toes in the water and the sand, to watch the seas part on behalf of Love.

So don’t be shy, if you’re a Mary. Just be led. Pray with your hungry heart and then go out into the beleaguered world. Offer Beauty among the desolation.


“Singularity”by cleverdoll is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Categories: spirituality and faith


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