Who Am I? That is the eternal question and depending on how you look at it, the answer is endlessly complex or ridiculously simple, but for the purposes of this “about” page, I am Shanti.
I am an Everything. This is what I always say when people ask me “are you a Christian?” I say –“ I am an Everything”, because I love God in all religions and I see God loving humanity in all religions.
I was born in Sweden, moved to Florida as a child and then grew up going back and forth between the two. I was raised in a typical Swedish Lutheran, non-religious household – I was baptized and then hardly went back to church until it was time for my confirmation.
When I was 15, I saw the movie Gandhi and it stirred something deep in my soul. I loved India, I loved the fight for justice and freedom, I loved the revolution through non-violence, I loved Gandhi’s devotion to God and I loved him saying, “I am a Hindu, I am a Muslim, I am a Christian, I am a Jew.”
I bought a book and learned to meditate; I read books about Gandhi, ahimsa and Indian culture. When I was in high school, I got in trouble for becoming a vegetarian and going to Peace rallies. In college, my passion for the spiritual continued – I explored Angels and spirit guides, fairies and Goddess worship, God in Nature and the nature of God.
After college, I went to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Thailand – I studied a Gandhian service organization and stayed with a family in a tiny village. I backpacked around, staying in one dollar hotel rooms. I took cold showers with lizards, rode on buses with chickens, stepped in dung from holy cows and had my brand new bananas stolen by a monkey. I also faced the poverty and deformity of begging lepers, who taught me a lot about not just giving money but giving respect and looking them in the eye with love, not pity. I met beautiful children living in poverty yet playing with simplicity and joy, sharing everything with each other. I meditated, journaled, prayed and was transformed.
After India, I dove deeper into my spiritual path and my longing to live closer to God. I fell in love with Jesus. I met Quan Yin on the New York subway. I hung out with St Francis and traveled to Assisi. I chanted the name Ram until it was like nectar in my mouth. And I learned to experience God as my best friend. I worked for an interfaith ministry and went through 15 years of many and varied inner and outer experiences – ecstatic and blissful, tormented and depressing, awakening and insightful, painful and confusing. My spiritual path led me through heartbreak in both the good and bad sense of the word.
Now I am just a freelance servant of God trying to find my own way to love God and make the world a better place. My passion is “inner peace, world peace” and spreading goodness through being present, compassionate & kind. I am also dedicated to fostering Interfaith understanding and harmony – to end hate in the name of love and bring Peace among all religions, including humanism and atheism. I’m also passionate about putting my “spirituality” into real life action, making the world a better place in deeds that affect real change for real people, animals and the Earth. I am currently enrolled in a Master of Theology program in Religions in Peace and Conflict, to further my dedication to peace and social justice. And I find it’s important to balance life with enough silly things – like collecting palindromes or making iMovies with my niece, starring our dogs. So I chant, I meditate, I pray, I play, I study, I go to work, I go to church and I walk my dog – all while yearning to live in constant communion – to live and move and have my being in Christ, in God.