Tamira Burns says she got “The Call” around age seven, in the form of a profound angel encounter that many might label as “crazy”, or the imaginings of a creative, gifted child.
“My heart felt like it would explode from the love I felt! The angel opened my path before me and advised me to follow my father, as he was a true child of God,” Tamira says of her angel encounter.
Tamira’s father was what she describes as a “secular humanist and a naturalist, who loved the earth and cared for all the creatures upon it with a profound love.” Her father felt that “god” was an ego construct of humanity to control the masses, and that churches were no more than a place to be reprogrammed, which confused Tamira as a child, as she did not understand the very personal relationship her father had with what he called “spirit” until she was much older.
Her mother was an excommunicated Catholic, abandoned by the church and stuck in a “spiritual orphanhood.” As a child, Tamira’s family did not attend church, and did not have a bible in the house. Her home was filled with books on nature and culture, anthropological journals and magazines such as the Smithsonian, Omni, and National Geographic.
“I never lacked for intellectual support and pursuit,” Tamira explains. “However, as a child in a non-Christian family in America, the ‘Calling’ left me with far more questions than a definitive path to spiritual service.”
A spiritual person from a young age, Tamira’s relationship with “god” was largely developed through a study of the world’s belief systems. Her father supported and encouraged her curiosity, studying faith-based texts with her such as the Upanishads, an ancient Indian spiritual text. Later in her life, Tamira found the work of writers and doctors such as Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung and became fascinated by the study of archetypes and a believer in the Hero’s Journey.
Through all of her seeking, Tamira discovered that she is what she refers to as a “spiritual ecstatic,” practicing a profound and incredibly passionate, personal relationship with the Divine. “I understand that all paths lead to God. The faces of gods and goddesses of all beliefs, serving as a mirror to our inner divine selves, their journeys of legend serving as examples to our own hero’s journeys,” she says.
On Friday, June 5th, Tamira will be ordained at the monthly Gifts & Graces event that Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) holds on the first Friday of every month. As a student in SWIHA’s Associates of Mind-Body Transformational Psychology program, Tamira chose to specialize in Spiritual Studies, an obvious natural path for her, given her lifelong passion around spirituality.
Currently, Tamira calls the small, post-modern Christian community the United Church of Christ (UCC) her spiritual “home.” The UCC has its roots in compassion and social justice born from the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s. Rebel and Divine, UCC serves homeless and at risk youth and young adults within the LGBTQ community and beyond. Tamira is the Spiritual Director for her group.
The UCC offers a weekly feeding program with a supplemental dry goods pantry that is open daily, as well as toiletry bags and showers. They opened a clothing “boutique” where LGBTQ youth and young adults can shop for clothing using volunteer hours, in a supportive environment where those shopping can browse for clothing that matches their gender identity without fear of discrimination.
Tamira’s group provides guest speakers who can share their hero’s journeys and help to inspire youth and speakers from different faiths and beliefs. They have monthly spiritual discussions, cognitive coping skill groups, pastoral care groups and addiction counseling.
“We never preach, attempt to convert or change the beliefs of those who call us home. Our congregation holds many different beliefs and we operate within the belief that all paths lead to God. The thing that binds our community is pure unconditional love and acceptance.”
Tamira is excited to become ordained, as she feels it is confirmation of her calling and her true path. She has the full support of her Christian pastoral mentor, and says that being ordained is a joyful addition to the work she is currently doing.
“This is an ordination that I will carry proudly no matter where my wandering heart finds a mission of compassion,”
Please be our guest on Friday, June 5th, at 6 pm when Tamira becomes ordained at SWIHA’s monthly Gifts & Graces event. For more information about the event, or for information about SWIHA’s Spiritual Studies courses and becoming ordained, call 480-994-9244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.