My Defining Moment

by Genevieve Munoz

Sometimes, all you have is a loaf of bread…

Throughout my life I’ve experienced and noticed that there is a theme and path of sacredness that we go down when facing big life changes, and in that path are perhaps reflections in my own desire to share knowledge and appreciation of how walking a labyrinth can be used as a spiritual tool that helps us focus our attention in a sacred and stable space to listen to the longing of our soul.

Prior to my training at the Celebrant Foundation & Institute™  I had always worked in service fields. From clerk, to reading specialist for kids in need, working with the elderly, support staff to several professors at M.I.T., owning and operating my own licensed day care, to starting and running my own cleaning business for many, many years.

I would like to touch on that last business, my cleaning business, as I feel it has been a wonderful source of preparation for what I am now doing.

I went through a divorce in 1994. My children, who were at the time 6 and 10, came with me to Duluth, MN from New Hampshire. I had family in MN and wanted the children to really get to know them. I had very little money and no job when we arrived. Someone said to me, “Why don’t you go up to the McCabe Renewal Center (which is a Spiritual Retreat) and just sit on their bench swing for a while. And so, I did…

It was a beautiful building with beautiful grounds. After about a half hour, the Director came out, greeted me warmly, and sat next to me on the bench swing as we shared a profound conversation. At the end of our time together I was given a hug, a still warm loaf of bread and a job cooking and cleaning for the Retreat Center.

In the many years since then, I had been running my own cleaning business and had met the most amazing human beings. I am humbled and honored of having worked in this service field. When you think about it, I was entering “sacred space.” This was their home – a place where newborns are placed in their cribs, birthdays are celebrated, meals are created and shared and where loved ones gather in times of sorrow – it is where life happens and memories are made. I have witnessed everything from tears of joy to the sobbing of gut wrenching pain, and I have been blessed and trusted enough to be the giver and recipient of hugs in such important times. One can’t help but look at their own life at these times of transition. And there have been many.

I’ll share a recent one with you.  Some time ago I was engaged to a man who lived in a neighboring town about an hour and a half away. We had plans to marry in early June. My two children were grown, both college graduates and off happily on their own. So I had sold my house, quit my job and had started to say goodbye to the life and house I had known and lived in for so long. Two weeks before the wedding I called it off…

“To Everything There is a Season and a Time and a Purpose under Heaven.” That’s what is said on the bag that I had bought, the bag that held all of the papers and folders for our wedding day. It was also the theme to be used in and on our wedding day which was to have taken place in the forest/woods. As it turned out, it was not my season. Instead it was a time of great separation. Canceling my wedding meant canceling a marriage, a relationship. And though I knew I had made the right decision, it also meant facing some real challenges. You see, I had sold my home and quit my job to move to the city my fiancé lived in. The buyer for my house had a glitch on his end closing day which meant waiting an additional two weeks. For me, that meant having no place to live and no money. Just the suitcase I had packed. I was homeless. At the end of those two weeks I had found a wee little cabin up the shores of Lake Superior. Tiny, to be sure, only 400 square feet, but it was home. I walked my dog to the back yard and showed her the dog house and dog run that had been put up by previous renters. There was an area where I eventually planted a small perennial garden and installed a stone walkway with flowering thyme peeking out here and there between the stones. I made a huge decision of taking as much time off as I needed. To rest, to heal, to plant, to nest, and to simply absorb the summers’ soothing rays.

It wasn’t long after that when I spotted the woman vase (naked torso) at a pottery sale I had been invited to. I was so drawn to her and when picking her up heard the words, “There are times in a woman’s life when she must first be empty in order to be filled.” I hugged her, paid for her and brought her home.

It was late summer when I saw the ad for Celebrancy in a Spirituality and Health magazine and immediately knew this was something I had to do. It encompassed everything in my life that held such meaning and now I have the honor and privilege of working with others along their very personal journey’s; helping them to mark those significant times in their lives, those threshold moments, those rites of passage! What a joy, a gift and an honor!

It is no coincidence that I found my beautiful woman vase and use her as a metaphor in my life, or even that I am now part of a wonderful and beautiful Celebrant family. In fact, it was so appropriate that the first poem in my last class was, “To Everything There is a Season and a Time and Purpose under Heaven.” The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end. Just like in nature, so must we go through the seasons of our lives, over and over again.

By allowing myself to hear my own “heartbeat” (so primal and basic) as my compass, deciding what rang true for me, I was able to shed my old life, follow my path, and find my way out of the dark woods, crossing the threshold into the light of a new season – one that is bathed in meaning and purpose … and I am filled.

And now, I have been asked to give a workshop on Walking the Labyrinth in May of 2012. I was asked by the Director of the McCabe Renewal Center. I have come full circle, in and out and in again…