Well, let's just say that behind Reverend Colbert lies a host
of unique relatives, contradiction, and complication that formed the very unique and spiritual woman we know today --
some might say a hippie cowgirl.
But back to the history.
After a divorce betweeen her parents at the age of seven, the family was
no longer welcome at the church they attended in Cypress, Texas, and succinctly ended any participation in organized religion.
Attending vacation bible school each summer was sorely missed, by the way.
It would be years later when Reverend Colbert was barely 13 years old,
when a life-altering event would take place. After becoming very ill during school, she was rushed to the hospital
with increasing breathing and swallowing difficulty, and simultaneous ascending and descending paralysis. Within hours
of being checked in, the young girl was completely paralyzed and in PICU with very little hope of a diagnosis
and ultimate cure.
During the course of the two weeks she was hospitalized, the young
girl was hooked up to a heart monitor, a breathing machine, a catheter tube and numerous other wirings. She never slept
for fear she would die. One evening, the teen felt herself slip into a dreamy state where some interesting things occurred.
Benae saw her maternal grandfather, "Paw-Paw Lee", running out in the pasture of the small farm her grandparents lived at
during her early youth. Paw-Paw yelled for Benae, whom he called "Sugarfoot", to come join him and help feed the cows. Knowing
what fun she'd had as a small girl doing just that, she followed with verve, running and skipping on the same
legs that held her captive to her hospital bed.
Suddenly, the area around the pasture became darker and the sun became
crisp and detailed, causing an almost magnetic pull to the bright beacon. Benae heard her Paw-Paw in the distance telling
her to come on, but heard her mother calling her name to come back to the house. She told her Paw-Paw that she couldn't come
with him and needed to go home. He said okay and that he'd go ahead without her, but told her he loved her, something she
never heard from him as a child.
The youth then awoke with a start, noticing about 6 medical professionals
hovering around her, one fellow with some "irons" in his hands. As it had turned out, her heart had stopped and the PICU team used
the defibrillator to induce the organ back to life. One of the nurses were overheard saying the young girl was out
for at least 2 minutes and that they were suprised they got her back.
Miraculously, the young girl began to get better the next day,
the feeling coming back into her arms and legs, and showing enough pulse oxygen (blood gas) to breathe on her own. They transferred
her to a regular room, began physical therapy, and the teen was able to go home within a few days. What was waiting for her
at home was not the best of tidings, in contrast to her recent ordeal. Her mother gave her the sad news that her beloved Paw-Paw
had passed away while she was hospitalized and didn't want to tell the girl while she was ill.
It was a few years later at around 16 years old when the youth put
two and two together and realized what she had experienced. She asked her mom when her Paw-Paw died, and found out it was
the exact time she had gone into cardiac arrest, and was having her "dream". Needless to say, what this young girl experienced
was nothing less than a miracle. But adding this near-death experience, and her interaction with her passing grandfather, Benae
was spiritually impacted with a gift she will honor her entire life: getting to come back.
Along the way, Reverend Colbert has continued to experience these spiritual
"passages" in the form of people and experiences. She has been present at the passing of friends, advised many people spiritually,
experienced a "spiritual lightening bolt" at a religious retreat, and has been assessed with the spiritual gifts
of Discerning of Spirits and Martyrdom. Reverend Colbert is no stranger to grief, loss, abuse, the difficulties and joys
of human relationships, and the general task of living life to its fullest. In the course of her quest for knowledge, Reverend
Colbert has studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, read the Holy Bible, portions of the Talmud, principles of Islam, is
deeply influenced by her Native American traditions in spirituality, and believes that a simple life is the key to happiness.
And being quite the outspoken woman, she'll always tell you her thoughts on any matter, which are usually quite interesting.
(She gets that spunk from her parents, and from her clairvoyant grandmother for whom she is named.)
Around 1994, Benae was invited to a commitment ceremony in Austin, Texas
through some friends. She did not know the couple, but was forever changed by the experience. The ceremony was performed by
a Native American shaman-priestess who was bedecked in colorful traditional robes and associated accoutrement. It was a non-traditional
rite using the "hand-fasting" aspect, inviting the attendees to stand in a circle around the couple and hold a rope made of
every color of the rainbow which was then connected to the betrothed. The shaman-priestess then conducted the ceremony to
a teary-eyed backyard congregation, joining two souls in love and life in a way in which Reverend Colbert had
It was at that time that Reverend Colbert secretly wished she could do the
same for people, and has since made her wishes come true.
When asked about her spiritual belief system, Reverend Benae replied, "I believe in Emmanuel;
that is, 'God with us'. That who each of us chooses to believe in and seek out as a guiding spirit on which to base our
faith in life is right, and we may call that entity anything we wish. I choose to call this energy God. I believe that together
we all make up the love, the positive light and the power that is God. We can use it for good or use it for evil, and that
is the negative, or dark."
"I believe that with God, any and all things are possible, and thinking inside a tidy little box, rather
than about the possibilities keeps us from loving, growing and reaching life's full potential. This is the universality that
moves life forward."
Reverend Benae currently resides in Austin, Texas with her spouse Anna
and their furry kids: Xena, Eli, Taco, Kirby and T.J. An online marketing expert by day, her ceremonial ministry
is a part-time joy that she hopes to build and continue into retirement.