Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’


My kids examining the bleeding heart flowers

At my most spiritual, I am outside.  Makes sense, right?  Native Americans found spirituality in the world around them, just as other cultures have throughout time.  During this season of fecundity, or rebirth if you like, it’s hard to go wrong contemplating the trees budding (unless, like me they make you sneeze out of control — but that’s what prescription antihistamines are for) or the birds building nests, and all of the neighbors who I haven’t seen since last Halloween strolling down the street with wagons full of kids.  Yesterday, I spent most of the day outside barefoot.  Living up to that Kentucky stereotype.  The kids had friends over and played while I gardened and read on the porch swing, listening to the bird conversations.  It’s times like this when I’m most content and questions about eternity just seem unnecessarily angsty.  It’s times like this when I don’t feel the need for the four walls of a church or synagogue because my porch, my yard and my kids’ laughter is enough.


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Yesterday, Sunday, I dressed for church.  I figured a UU church didn’t require much dressing up, so I kept it casual.  And when I got to the church, I hid in the back behind a tall man in order to be unnoticed from the pulpit.  My purpose was to observe, not draw attention to myself.  There was a lot to observe.

I doubt I have the correct terminology for the service, so I’ll just describe.  The language of the service was very inclusive of all people, all perspectives, all belief systems and that was very welcoming.  The greeters were warm without being overly enthusiastic so as to scare me away.  The hymns were, well hymns, but the lyrics were lovely.  I especially loved the last song that described the earth as a blue boat.  There were two milestone ceremonies, both sweet if odd.  Definitely not the type of thing you’d see in a traditional church or synagogue, temple or mosque.  And the sermon was both inspirational and taught me a little something about Unitarian philosophy.

Still, I felt uneasy.  I think it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to being part of a group of people gathered to “worship” in a sacred space, especially a space other than a synagogue, a place called church (though I prefer the Quaker term: meeting house).  For all of my adult life I have avoided this.  When I meditate or contemplate, I prefer to do so alone.  There is much to admire at First Unitarian, but as with most of my resolutions, this one will take multiple visits before becoming a habit, or choosing a different path.

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I am not a spiritual person.  (And here’s where I lose half of my readership.) In fact, I’m basically anti-religion.  At least, anti-organized religion.  When I say I’m not spiritual, I mean I’m not spiritual in a traditional sense: I don’t belong nor do I attend a synagogue or church, ashram or mosque.  Religion fell off of my radar in my early teens and I’m comfortably (dare I say it) atheist.  There, I came out.  In fact, a lot of the personal essays that I have written deal with the theme of religion and my ambiguous feelings towards raising my children one faith or another.  None of it works for me, so why lie to them?  This is not to say that I disparage all religion.  Quite the opposite is true.  I have great respect for my friends who have faith and practice the better teachings religion has to offer: kindness, compassion, love, forgiveness.  I just don’t always see religious folk remembering these teachings.  The scary people who brought us Westboro Baptist come to mind.  But in an effort to find something I do believe in, and do want to share with my young children, I’m willing to explore what it means to be spiritual.  As I said in my last post, gardening in next to godliness for me, and I do share that with my kids.  They love nature and science and are both equally fascinated with the world around them.

In my blog introduction I mentioned some goals towards better understanding what it means to be spiritual.  After some reflection, I will blend and stretch these goals a bit this coming month.  Originally I stated I would attend a Unitarian Universalist church for a month.  (I mentioned this idea to a fellow Jewish non-conformist last summer and she called me a “Jewnitarian”.  I’m okay with that, I think.) There are at least 3 or 4 UU churches in town and I have considered attending each of them.  Now I have a friend who is a minister (and a roller derby queen!!) at one of the oldest Unitarian churches in town.  Her Facebook and blog posts have inspired me so much that I’ve set up a meeting with her to discuss her congregation.  I may not need to go any further.  And while attending church is anathema to this Jewish homegirl, I will try to stay open to this experience.  First step, meet and discuss.  No obligations.

I also want to do some reading.  Two books that have lolled on my virtual bookshelf (and I mean “imaginary” not e-reader) are Julia Sweeney’s God Said Ha! and Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion.  (I’m linking to Better World Books for the book info because, unlike Amazon, this company donates money to world-wide literacy efforts.  Check them out!) Okay, so neither book is going to open my mind to new ways of thinking, but they may help me put words to how I feel.  I’m more interested in Sweeney’s book right now, having endured two recent losses to cancer.  It feels like the right time to read it.  I’m also checking into bereavement support at Gilda’s Club.  (Here’s the link for the national website: http://www.gildasclub.org/)

The last goal of the month is to face the eternal.  I have some core beliefs about death and the ceremonies that surround death.  My dad’s girlfriend’s funeral on Monday did not meet any of my own personal needs, but I realize, it wasn’t about me.  It just made me keenly aware that a.) I have some planning to do and b.) I need to make sure my requests are met by putting it in writing and having it all notarized.  Another book I’ve considered reading ever since it was featured on Six Feet Under is Stiff. Not sure if I’m up to the challenge of this exploration of human cadavers, but it does look morosely fascinating.

If I don’t accomplish all of this soul-searching in one month, that’s fine.  I have two more months to contemplate metaphysics, as stipulated by my organizational blog flow chart.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone.  Just living my life, trying not to be a pest along the way.

And away we go . . .

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