Recently two friends and I were discussing religion. Well … more spirituality than religion. But you really can’t have a discussion about one without the other or so it would seem. The following day in my social feeds was a link to an excellent, and I do mean excellent, blog. The post/blog is from a religious perspective, Christianity in this case. Between the two, I was fueled to write this post.
I’ve never been much of one to attend church. My Catholic family moved to a CRC town when I was two. The town is still small now, but was also small minded then. The Catholic church was way on the other side of another town. We attended until my parents got divorced. We stopped going altogether except holidays. And then even that stopped.
My spiritual education didn’t stop, however. In fact, if anything it expanded. Having no box into which I was trying to put myself, or be put by others, I was free to explore as I chose. As such, I’ve studied many of the major, formal, recognized religions at one point or another. Some studies have been brief, others more expanded. Some learnings are remembered, some long forgotten.
I’ve read of religions long dead or buried in myth, and religions still being practiced today. My house holds a combination of idols and relics that look out of place depending on whose eyes are viewing them. There’s a St Joseph figure from when we tried to sell the house during my divorce, he’s a little dirty from being buried upside down and backwards while facing the street but the bag containing runes that were a gift 20 or so years ago sitting next to him don’t seem to mind and the smiling buddha still smiles from across the room.
I’ve read the bible from front to back. Old testament, then new. In order. As if it were a chapter book. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it. Regardless of your religion or beliefs.
I’ve read spiritual leaders, I’ve listened to podcasts. I’ve attending services at Catholic churches, CRC, Baptist, no denominational, pagan. Inputs, all of them.
And in doing so, I’ve turned my faith, my spirituality into something that works for me. In my view, this is how spirituality is supposed to be. Something that is between me and my higher power, whatever it is that speaks to me as such.
Sometimes, my higher power is the homeless man I pass on the street who reminds me to have empathy. Sometimes, my higher power is the sound of the waves crashing over a paddleboard as I sit quietly in the water. A yoga pose might do it the next day. Digging in the dirt in my garden. Or acts of service to another. Music. Children’s smiles and laughter. Even my writing can be a spiritual act for me no matter what the topic is.
Regardless of how I get it, hear it, see it, do it, practice it. It’s mine.
Yet what I see and hear often is someone else trying to tell me how something so personal should be more like theirs.
I’ve been chided for not going to church, for not taking my son. If you’re scorning or trying to shame me, make me feel bad, why oh why would I want to spend more time with you and yours? I don’t have time for that.
I have also been welcomed. Open armed. By friends who saw something or heard something in their service that they thought would resonate with me. I’m grateful that two of the largest Christian congregations near me offer many of their services recorded as MP3. I can ‘attend’ service, have the lesson, and not go near the church. That’s pretty perfect for me. I’m grateful that my friends think of me when they hear the service and remember to share it with me. I can truly say I’m blessed.
Some people will tell me that without the act of attending the church, I can’t know god (lowercase chosen intentionally). That makes me sad. For them. That they think the only way to know a higher power is to go to a particular building one day a week. For me, my spirituality is much deeper than that. It’s an all day, every day thing.
I’m a spiritual being. Placed here for a higher purpose by a higher power. My beliefs and practice they are mine. They are for me. To serve me. So that I can in turn better serve others.
I know who walks with me.
In Light & Love