I’ve been writing columns for the local newspaper since 2004, just after I had moved to Cranbrook, some of which are reprinted in the HighWay. Recently, someone asked, “Why do you write these columns? What do you hope to achieve?”
What a great question. Part of the reason I started to write is that the editor invited members of the Ministerial to do so. I was the only one who took him up on his offer.
Another reason is that I live in a very conservative town, serving a congregation which stated in their profile that “we are the last bastion of liberalism in town”. As a result, I thought it would be important in such a conservative religious climate to hear a more progressive voice.
Too often, we hear news reports about Christians who are anti–abortion, anti–evolution, anti–homosexuality, anti–(you fill in the blank). But there is another way of being Christian. We understand that science speaks truth. We seek to embrace and welcome all people with compassion, including members of the LGBTQ community. We seek to take care of the environment because we believe the truth of global warming. We stand for the rights of women to make choices which affect their bodies.
People in Cranbrook have told me how much of a relief it is to find this way of being Christian. They had given up hope because the church has gotten such a bad rep in the opinions of thoughtful people.
But the most important reason I write is because I believe we are all spiritual beings, even if we are not all religious. I have learned this anew from people who are walking the 12–step journey to wholeness. They know that we are spiritual beings. They have learned from difficult experience that we cannot do it on our own. I occasionally lead a small discussion group about spirituality with people who are in rehab. As they think seriously about their lives, and as they work on their recovery, they have learned that we are deeply spiritual beings.
We are not just physical, or emotional, or psychological beings. Spirituality is an equal, and equally important, part of who we are. But people find it much more difficult to speak of their spiritual lives. Partly it’s because we’ve been taught that “religion is private” and we’re not supposed to talk about religion or politics in polite company. It’s also a symptom of the fact that many people believe that we live in a post–spiritual age.
But is that true?
When I talk about spirituality, I’m not talking about religion or church or even Christian faith. Spirituality is deeper, broader, more profound than that. Spirituality is a matter of making deep connections. People trapped by addiction have taught me the power of that connectivity, and the damage that happens when we lose those connective threads.
Spiritual people make deep connections in four primary ways: with ourselves; with nature; with other people; and with something or someone beyond us.
Spiritual people are connected with our deepest and best selves. We try to be self–aware, experiencing both the pain and the joy in our lives. We spend time examining our lives, our hopes, our fears, our knee–jerk responses.
Spiritual people are also connected with nature. We seek to ground ourselves as we stand on the earth we share with all other creatures and know ourselves to be one with all of creation.
Thirdly, spiritual people are connected with other people. None of us are isolated individuals or self–made. Living in an interdependent world, we seek to build community to support and encourage one another so that we can all thrive together.
Finally, spiritual people are connected with something or someone beyond us. I name that reality “God”. Others name this reality differently. For me, God is an incorporeal spirit who embodies a wider and grander purpose than we can know in our own small worlds. Together with all other spiritual people, we stand in awe and wonder as we catch glimpses of a world which is infinitely more than anything we can ask or imagine.
I write these columns as my way of contributing to the conversation. I seek to remind myself and us all that we are not just physical, emotional and psychological beings. We also live in the realm of the spirit. We are spiritual beings, seeking to connect deeply. If we ignore that sense of connectedness, we lose an essential part of our being.