Sunday, December 11, 2011
"The spiritual instinct is to relax into the mystery of life as it's happening."
--- Elizabeth Lesser
When I heard this comment from Elizabeth Lesser, the author of "Broken Open," I thought how similar it sounds to the traditional religious teaching of "Trust God."
People often get very caught up in terminology.
I have very traditional religious beliefs in many ways. But I also believe in the teachings of other religions considered less traditional in the United States. I see more similarity than difference in various faiths. We can get worked up about what something is called or how it's practiced, when the underlying belief is essentially the same.
Over the years, I've learned to think of this as "spiritual" as opposed to "religious" because it is something far too intimate and personal to be labeled as being part of a religious group. I honor that approach, and at times I wish for it, but there is not a group that believes as I do, so it is not an option for me. I also do not want to be considered a representative of any group and held up as a model of how a person who believes that way should act, speak or engage with the world. I am far too fallible for that life.
I find tremendous comfort in my faith and I wish that for others. But I believe people have to find their own paths. It is not my place to interfere with that, or impose my own structure on it. It will be far more meaningful and central to a person's life if it's something they come to on their own. At least that's how it has been for me, and I have only my own experience to base that on. I'm always open to discussing my beliefs with people who are seeking, but only if they ask.
In the past six months, more people have asked me point-blank questions about my beliefs than has happened in probably the last decade. I'm not sure if something has shifted or if it's pure coincidence. In one case it was a friend who had been in my life for a long time. He was surprised I had not "preached" to him over the years. I responded that while I honor that approach for others, I'm certain it's not what was intended for me. I believe doors opened with gentleness and kindness are more productive than those forced open. Of course, everyone is different, and people respond to different things.
To me it seems if we could all focus on the similarities instead of the differences, we'd be better off. But, alas, that does not seem to be the path for many either. And I know people find faith in a million different ways, and people do not have to approach it exactly as I do it in order for it to be valid.
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Posted by Patsy Terrell at 8:35 PM