Have Faith: Spiritual fitness

Pam Benjamin shares her story of finding (and keeping) her faith.

Pam in Haiti, where Sense of Wonder global outreach sent funds for school supplies for 400 children. — Courtesy Sense of Wonder Creatio

Instead of writing about my own spiritual journey, I thought it would be fun and much more interesting to ask someone else about theirs. Pam Benjamin was kind enough to answer some pretty personal questions for me, and for that I’m very grateful. 

In the summer of 1991, Pam founded Sense of Wonder Creations, a nonprofit “with a heartfelt desire to become a loving place for young people to improve their creative talents and have fun, while at the same time learning how to share their experiences with their peers, people in developing countries, and the environment.” Kids and their kids have gone on to enjoy their Sense of Wonder experiences. It’s such an impressive place, and she’s done such far-reaching work, that I wanted to ask her how spirituality has influenced her life. 

I read someplace that you had some sort of spiritual epiphany before you founded Sense of Wonder Creations. Tell me how that happened.

I did have an awakening experience, but it was earlier, when I was in my 20s living on Formentera, the southernmost island of the Balearics in the Mediterranean Sea, off the east coast of Spain. Nat and I traveled to Europe together in the summer, and he went South to Malta to deliver a 38-foot schooner back to the States, and I hiked around the hills of Germany, Austria, and Italy with a friend. I eventually ended up on Formentera with some new friends. Going to this place was a journey back in time —, no running water or electricity, no cars, plowing their fields with donkeys, and we walked everywhere. The Spaniards still wore their indigenous clothing. We rented a converted barn with three stalls turned into bedrooms for $8 per month for each room. A retired Canadian professor in one of the little towns had opened a library full of books in English for self-exploration and introspection, Eastern religions, and other spiritual study. It was there, after reading, much soul-searching, and living close to the earth, the ocean, and nature without the interruption of technical devices and broadcasting media, I had a spiritual awakening.

Later in the fall, Nat sailed west from Malta, and met me on Formentera in early December, where we stayed for several more months.

How does Sense of Wonder add depth to your own life? 

I feel that Sense of Wonder Creations is the culmination of my religious upbringing, education in creative arts, travel to different countries, and living in unusual places, witnessing profound poverty and despair, long-distance sailing, time alone in nature, becoming a mother, and doing community service work. This all came together to reveal what I am most compassionate and passionate about in one inspiring educational system called Sense of Wonder Creations. 

In the past 32 years [SoWC] has raised funds for many orphanages around the world, and organizations that help endangered animals. In the past 10 years we have started a Haiti Fund, and because of the generosity of many people, we have been able to help rebuild after Hurricane Matthew, fund a music and art program, give them instruments and sound equipment, fund a four-acre community garden, build a chicken coop and a goat shed, and supply them with chickens and goats and more. We send down supplies every year on our schooner, or on a friend’s sailboat. You can read about all that we have done in Haiti at

senseofwondercreations.org/global-philanthrophy. We have also been helping an orphanage in Uganda, and have raised funds for Ukraine.

I love working with children and young adults, and it is enormously inspiring to fulfill our Sense of Wonder mission: to blend the creative arts with helping to educate them to appreciate cultural diversity, care for the environment, do local and global community service, and show them how one person can make a difference.

Describe your personal spiritual practice. Is it something you stick to?

I do stick to my personal spiritual practice. I don’t usually talk about it in daily conversation, but if it might help another person to know what I do, I am happy to share it. Every morning, I spend an hour or more reading the Bible or other spiritually inspired writings. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I listen to spiritual readings or podcasts on my iPod, and when I take walks in nature or when I am in the car, I listen to spiritually inspired writings and music. I work at trying to stay humble, spiritually centered, uplifted, and connected, and I try to listen as much as possible to our higher consciousness.

Can you describe some instances when you really felt connected to a higher power?

Yes; I try to stay connected every moment of the day, to some extent. There have also been times when I have felt a very close sense of connection to our higher power, for instance when I was living in Formentera. I also had some beautiful connections leading up to and when I gave birth to our two daughters. Our oldest daughter, Jessica, was born at home in Formentera, and our youngest daughter was born at home on Hatch Road in Vineyard Haven. Other times have been out in the middle of the Atlantic, when I was on watch all by myself, or hiking the mountains of Peru. It usually happens when I am alone with nature, and I am so very humbled and grateful for all of it.

Growing up, was your family religious? Did they go to church or synagogue when you were younger?

My mother was very religious, attended church, and brought my sister and I to Sunday school. My dad was quietly religious. He didn’t attend church, but was highly principled and very kind and loving. My parents were always compassionate and giving to others. I was taught by example how to be a thoughtful, kind, and empathetic person. My extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins were also very religious, and practiced it daily. When I was little, I gave my parents some frights because I always wanted to run free, climb trees, and walk on high walls next to a river. However, they were both very patient and kind, and eventually I understood the value of obedience. 

How did you set an example for your own children in the area of spirituality?

I set an example of spirituality by following my parents’ lead, to bring our daughters to church, read spiritual verses to them, and emphasize the expression of immortal spiritual qualities. I try to always be kind, loving, and understanding. Our two daughters and six grandchildren all reflect beautiful qualities. If someone asks for advice, I offer what I have learned, and hopefully have passed on what the most important spiritual qualities are in life.

Does your spirituality change as you get older, as the years go by?

As the years go by, my spirituality deepens with daily study.

What’s your best advice to someone who is looking to dig deeper, to develop their spirituality?

We don’t always know what another person is going through, so I try to listen from my heart to discern their needs. I sometimes recommend taking walks in nature, meditation, and spiritual study. If it seems appropriate, I recommend quieting the mind of the daily unnecessary thoughts of self, to reach for our higher spiritual consciousness to find peace, love and harmony. It takes work, but it is all so very rewarding.

I have been thinking more lately about the strength and support that staying close to our higher power brings us.

For those who might be struggling at this time with all the difficult news stories from around the world — wars, disasters, floods, typhoons, nuclear weapons, and frightening messages about the future: Resilience is a wonderful word that comes to mind. I was speaking with some spiritually minded friends recently, and we talked about being like a bouncing ball that always bounces back and never loses its shape. This is what spiritual strength and wisdom give — elasticity and flexibility. Also, when we’re being offended, try to take no offense. It is pride, our ego and conceit, that gets offended, and we can avoid it by remembering who we are, the image and likeness of God. All that we are is because of God — divine love — and not ourselves. 


  1. Thank you Connie, for a beautifully written piece about beautiful people.
    Pam says : “All that we are is because of God — divine love — and not ourselves. ”
    “God is love”, more than that we cannot ask. We are all one. Are we not all “created in the image and likeness of God”? Therefore, it is our job to see the goodness in those who claim to be our enemies, we must turn our swords into plowshares, we must love one another no matter how difficult that task may seem. Most importantly, do what Pam and Nat do; put your actions where your mouth is… do something kind for someone else.
    Divine love rules!

Comments are closed.