Your relationship can be a spiritual sanctuary.
Linda: Jim Williams spent over four decades of his life in search of something that would fulfill his longing to contribute to humanity, share his numerous gifts with others and satisfy his quest for spiritual fulfillment. Always a gifted and diligent student, he easily got accepted into medical school and has been a practicing pediatrician for over forty years. A devout Catholic, Jim became increasingly immersed in the church and was ordained a priest in 1986. Yet Jim’s pursuit of fulfillment failed to be fully achieved in either the world of medicine or of religion. Although he continues to be a skilled and respected medical caregiver, he no longer sees his roles as a doctor or a priest as a means of personal or spiritual salvation.
Prior to meeting Raóul, Jim lived the life of a successful but closeted gay man. Caught between his deeper longings and his religious values, Jim lived with an inner conflict that at times was nearly overwhelming. He managed these intensely contradictory urges by engaging in extreme athleticism, overwork and other compulsive behavior patterns.
At a point at which Jim himself experienced life-threatening illness, due at least in part to his driven life style, he met Raóul. That was the point where everything changed for the better. Although Jim and Raóul share many common interests and values, including their faith, their devotion to family, their love of physical activity, and their deep concern and caring for the well being of others, temperamentally, they couldn’t be more different.
Raóul has always been “out” with his sexuality. Jim spent most of his life in the closet. Raóul’s ever-present smile tends to be infectious. Jim tends to be more serious. Raóul comes from a Hispanic background. Jim is Irish, 100% on both sides. Jim can be compulsively conscientious about things like nutrition and finances. Raóul tends more towards the “whatever….” end of the spectrum. Jim has spent over thirty years of his life engaged in formal study and education and is a voracious reader. Raóul’s primary study has been The University of Life.
Yet these differences not withstanding, Jim and Raóul have managed to find a common ground on which they both stand, as equal partners in a co-creative life that serves not only their individual needs and desires, but spills over to the lives of countless friends, patients colleagues, and family members. Listen to Jim tell his story in his own words, of discovering the simple pleasures of life.
Jim: “I spent over four decades of my life in search of something that would fulfill my longing to contribute to humanity, allow me to share my gifts with others, and satisfy my quest for spiritual fulfillment. Yet my pursuit of fulfillment failed to be fully achieved in either the world of medicine or of religion. Although I continue to be a respected medical caregiver, I no longer see my role as a doctor or a priest as a means of personal or spiritual salvation.”
“It’s been my marriage that has been the place that I have found that has met my deepest needs to experience purpose, meaning, and contribution in my life. When I fell in love with Raul, my world changed. We are from different origins flowing to a common destination, the place where these two domains, spirit and body, intersect and blend together for me, is the world of relationship.”
“There’s a difference between spirituality and religion. Spirituality, which I now define as ‘living life fully,’ helps me adapt in a difficult world. I have always been a very idealistic person, and I was strongly influenced by the priests in the church, who were my father figures. Being a doctor just wasn’t enough for me. The very same commitment to service that motivated me to become a doctor, also motivated me to become a priest. I didn’t want my healing efforts to be limited to the physical body.”
“During my time in the priesthood, my mind was always full of philosophy and theories. There was way too much information and mind chatter. But in the priesthood I saw how religion makes artificial divides between the sacred and the profane. I came to see at first hand the effects of my church’s behavior on abused children and “deviant” sexual minorities. It was my realization of these things that contributed to my decision to leave the religious order.”
“The church I now attend is a liberal and progressive, but my relationship has become an essential aspect of my spiritual practice. Having someone to share a life with is a holy thing. The most mundane things that I do with Raul, like working in the garden pulling weeds, planting bulbs, and watering is all part of the practice. Even cleaning up the kitchen together feels like sacred work. Every aspect of our shared lives brings me enormous fulfillment. Going on vacation and discovering new places, kissing good night before we go to sleep and before going to work in the morning, taking long walks on the weekends, everything feels like an expression of spiritual practice. For both of us, these are holy rituals.”
“Through our connection and the practices that we share, I’ve come to experience being present in my life and to all of creation in ways that I had never known before I met Raul. He’s helped me to see the sacred everywhere, particularly in his smile. When I finally stop ruminating over the contents of my mind and rest in my heart, I experience a felt awareness that I am in the right groove, both aligned with myself and connected to Raul. When I experience that connection, I feel like I’m home. Our home isn’t this house we live in, but it’s the love we share. It’s a place where I’m whole safe, and loved, and I know that everything is all right. Everything!”
The place that Jim has found that has met his deepest needs to experience purpose, meaning, and contribution in his life is neither in the world of the spirit or the body. Like two rivers flowing from different origins to a common destination, the place where these two domains intersect and blend together for Jim, is the world of relationship.
Their relationship is an embodiment of the notion that there is no difficulty in the world that love cannot overcome. After the years of striving in medical school, decades of practice as a doctor and years in the priesthood, they have found that it’s the simplest of pleasures, taking a walk, their nightly foot massages, planting bulbs in the garden and heart felt conversations where they feel the presence of spirit. They have discovered the simple pleasures of life that can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.