Where Am I Going? Moving From Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer
by Michelle Cromer
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Synopsis from Amazon:
If we are lucky, there are moments in life when all of a sudden, we can take a step away from whatever it is that consumes our days–whether it’s shuttling the kids to soccer, punching in at work, or picking up the dry cleaning–and we see a bigger picture. In these “ah-ha” moments, some of us have taken a hard look at our lives and wondered, This can’t really be it, can it? We want our lives which feel ordinary, to be extraordinary. And once we wake up and ask this question, we begin to have an inkling that there is something more, something deeper, more spiritual – that our lives can have meaning.
Part travel guide, part memoir, Where Am I Going? Moving From Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer takes the reader on a journey to finding this meaning in the same way that Michelle Cromer did for herself, through seven stages that connect each of us to the deepest part of our souls. This inspiring story of Michelle’s own quest for meaning in her life is a welcome departure from the typical preachy self-help book. Always spiritual, sometimes dangerous, often exotic, her search–as told by this hilarious, complicated woman from Texas who seems to barrel through life with her heart on her sleeve–is a powerful lesson for anyone who also finally asks the Big Questions and begins their own spiritual journey. it is a journey that can propel you to discover your life’s most profound purpose.
“Whatever has happened in your life up until now, whatever you have believed in, hoped for, or dreamed of, is in the past. A new meaningful life awaits you. You have the opportunity to clearly see it. I have written this book as if the two of us are about to walk through a gate into a deeper experience of life’s meaning. All you have to do is open the gate.” – pgs. 15-16
In her book Where Am I Going? Moving From Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer, Michelle Cromer provides a roadmap of her own individual spiritual journey and what she has learned while passing through seven distinct stages of inner transformation:
- The Wake-Up Call
- Denial and Fear
- The Search for Deeper Spiritual Meaning
- The Dark Night of the Soul
- Spiritual Surrender
- The Clarity Moment
- Where Am I Going?
Although Cromer admits in the book that she was raised a Christian and there are moments throughout the book where this comes out, this book does not strongly follow any one religious faction. There is mention of God many times; but there is also reference to the “Higher Power” as well. Cromer’s book isn’t about what you call this supreme being; rather it focuses on an individual’s journey to understanding their own spirituality and how one can find this sense in oneself. Personally, there are some things in this book that sounded a bit New Age-y to me (mysticism for one) and some things that seemed a bit contradictory, but there were a lot more things that made a lot of sense (prayer, meditation) and made me stop to ponder my own spiritual transformation.
There was one thing that the author revealed at the end of the book that perplexed me and is probably due to our differing theology. I am a Christian. I believe that there is one path to God and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Based on what the author wrote through the course of her book, I was led to believe that the author is also a Christian (pg. 130, specifically — “I am a woman, I am a mother, and I am a Christian.”).
Yet, at the very end of the book, she writes: ”I understand now that there are many paths to God and enlightenment.” (pg. 156, emphasis mine). Perhaps on her spiritual quest, she came to a new understanding of her Christianity. If that’s the case, I would have liked to have seen that development through through the book. Instead, I am left wondering.
For those who do not identify with any known religion, this is a fantastic book to help you get started with your spiritual journey (or at least getting you started thinking about it!). For many people, just thinking about it raises the stress level. But, Cromer has written a book that will appeal to everyone. For those who shy away from texts that are specific to one denomination or another, this one is universal. It is not specific to Christians or Buddhists or Hindus or anyone else (although all are mentioned in some fashion or another). It can be of help to those who do identify with a “religion” and those who don’t. For me, I would have liked something geared more toward the Christian perspective, but I still got some great things from this book. There is a lot here that will make you stop and think. It is definitely a book that can and should be read more than once.
Check out some of my favorite quotes from the book below.
Quotes from the Book:
“I will never forget waking up in Kathmandu and not having any idea who I was. None. Zero. Zip. I don’t mean like Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity or one of those soap opera stars who gets bumped on the head and can’t figure out who she is. No, I’m talking about something far worse; waking up to the horrible reality that I had no idea who I was or what my life meant. I was stuck in the middle of a meaningless existence. And I wanted out.” – pgs. 8-9
“… Shouldn’t life be about more than just working, trying to make money, buying stuff, and traveling? What if there’s more to life than what we experience with our five senses?” – pg. 9
“…because once you begin to ask deep questions of yourself, you activate and open a dormant part of your brain, and like Pandora’s box, it is a part that may never be closed again.” – pgs. 14-15
“I discovered I was entering a period in my life that I call the Age of Meaning…it is the time in your life when you finally “wake up” and ask questions that propel you to discover who you were born to be, leading you to an understanding of your life’s deeper purpose.” – pg. 15
“You don’t have to be a person of a particular faith to know that there is more going on in the world than just the activities we can experience with the five senses.” – pgs. 25-26
“If we could order up a life like we do food in a diner, I am sure most of us would request, ‘One good life, please, and hold the pain.’” – pg. 41
“Trusting your feelings is the first step to processing them. Your feelings are trying to communicate with you, trying to tell you something. Accept them, own them, and try not to judge them. Feelings may simply be our soul’s way of getting our attention.” –pg. 48
“When I pray, I don’t ask of plead for things, I surrender the need to control the outcome of events.” – pg. 51
“Praying gives me a chance to talk to God, and meditating gives God the chance to talk to me.” – pg. 51
“We search everywhere except for the one place we need to go, deeper into ourselves. Perhaps because deep down we are afraid of who we really are.” – pg. 55
“I think most people try to worship a God that they can define so that God then behaves in a way they can expect, but God is a complete mystery.” – pg. 147