The search for spiritual meaning

All humans have three things in common: We’re born, we live, and we die. For such simple facts, these truths raise profound questions for us.

We know about our bodies: we eat, sleep, work, and have children, for instance. We know about our feelings, about love, sorrow, joy, anger, or boredom. We form relationships with other people, we dream, we plan, we play, we get hurt, and most of the time, we take these events for granted and do what we need to do for another day.

But then sometimes something profound or miraculous or disastrous happens—like holding a baby, or falling in love, or being with someone who is dying—or some catastrophe strikes. At that moment we become aware of just how big the world is and how small we are in relation to it, and then we ask, “Why…?”

“Spirituality” describes, at least in part, that search for meaning and answers to our questions about life and death. We cannot answer them on our own, so we turn to others for help, like our friends, parents, religious leaders, or sometimes even strangers, just someone who can help make sense of life.

“Religion” is what we call the various ways in which different groups of people have found to answer these questions. The more people who have found a religion helpful and the longer they have practiced it together, the better they have organized it so that they could pass it on to others. Over time, the communities develop language, rites and ceremonies, and objects, all to express the profound experiences they have had and the truth they have found through them. The language and rites can be beautiful or frightening or confusing, yet at their core, they are still about those three simple facts: We’re born, we live, and we die—Why? What difference do we make?

In the wake of the New Age, and the ever-growing love affair our culture has with all things spiritual, a new mantra has emerged: I’m spiritual, not religious! It is the mantra of ex-Catholics and once-in-awhile Protestants and others on the spiritual path. This emerging mantra has grown up in response to religion that looks more like a museum, religion that says you practice THIS way or you aren’t one of us, religion that isn’t relevant to the life I lead, religion that tells us to believe 12 impossible things before breakfast and leaves no place open for questions or doubt.

And there’s this longing and maybe even a presence of energy in life. Perhaps if you are on the spiritual journey, you have felt this. Energy that gives life and joy — whether it’s looking at Rainer at sunrise, or playing music with others, or sitting with someone in a time of sorrow. That energy is what the Christian people call the presence of the Holy Spirit. The followers of this Jesus know this longing and energy only too well.

What is this longing? It is the longing to live in community with others from all walks of life — a community that is present in sadness and joy, a group of people searching and questioning and doubting and finding more questions about that presence together.

It’s not about having answers as much as it is about engaging a story. It is about your story and how your story connects to an ancient story of desert wanderers that, in time, came to see that humanity and this energy they called God mingled and existed through Christ and thus, exists in all of humanity.

Is it possible to practice and grow your spirituality within an organized church? Yes! The Episcopal Church holds many possibilities open for those on the spiritual path looking for a diverse community of believers.

The beauty of the Episcopal tradition is that it is open to questions and new possibilities, as well as ancient teachings. Imagine a spiritual practice that is both grounded in tradition and open to new possibilities.

Come join us, won’t you?

 

 

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