The Values Essays

The Value of Spirituality

Tuesday, June 09, 2009



The choice here of the concept of Spirituality, instead of religion, faith or belief, is very intentional. Religion conveys baggage of institutions, structure and divisive doctrine that we humans have been arguing over for centuries. Faith would be my second choice, after spirituality, but could also convey the baggage of accepting what you really may not have experienced for yourself. Belief may be problematic for some folks because it connotes accepting rather than knowing.

I maintain that spirituality can be experienced and known by everyone who cares to access their spiritual center. By spiritual center, I am talking about that source of all that is good and virtuous about human beings---some may choose to call it our God-source.  I am also talking about our human capacity for choice.  

Accessing your spiritual center can be radically different for various persons. The Number One path to access for me is music---not all music is spiritual for me but it can vary from Streisand to Sondheim to Sting depending on the venue. One of my most profound spiritual moments occurred on a car ride. Husband, John and I were cruising and singing along to the St. Olaf College Choir CD (John sang in this choir of all choirs as a college student). In short order, it became the most celestial quartet I have ever had the privilege of hearing with the addition of Spratley, our Chocolate Lab/Border Collie and Tristan Robert, our fifteen month old grandson. These precious creatures who had no command of words accessed their spiritual centers and sang with passion and abundant joy. Those moments are indelibly etched on my soul.

The Number Two path for me is relationships. Have you been in a setting with another human being(s) when you know that you know that you know---it doesn't get any better than this? Those are the moments when you move beyond the separateness of your own skin and experience a oneness of heart and mind and soul---Spirituality at its best. Worshipping with others, hanging out with girlfriends and having sex have provided transcendent moments for me.

My Number Three path is reading. I do not believe that God stopped speaking when the Hebrew Scripture, the New Testament and the Koran were finished. Even novels occasionally guide me down the path to my spiritual center. Anne Lamott, Sue Monk Kidd and Barbara Kingsolver have all been spiritual guides for me. Who are yours?

Nature would be on most persons list of pathways to spirituality. While this path is not unknown to me, it eludes me much of the time because I'm too focused on what critter or bug might be approaching.  

Wayne Muller in Legacy of the Heart, suggests that the Buddhist word for faith, sraddha, "implies a sense of trust, clarity and confidence---it literally means 'to put one's heart on.'" He also maintains that that faith is a verb not as noun. I celebrate this definition and choose to co-opt it for the value of spirituality, in spite of the fact that I rejected the word faith in the English definition.

updated: 8 years ago

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Nature in SpiritualityMonday, June 22nd 2009 6:02PM

Lutheran type theologian weighing in here. Luther talked about God hidden and God revealed. God hidden is the one who created the whole business. This is not the God to be messing with. See the Moses story of being hidden in the cleft of the rock while God passes by.

The revealed God is the one in the manger and on the cross. Much more approachable.

Nature is like everything else I know of in this version of the universe. It can be good or it can be bad, positive or negative, it all depends on the situation.

I agree that God didn't stop speaking with the various and sundry scriptures. All kinds of authors help.

I like the idea of the spiritual center, doesn't have as much baggage as some other terms.

Finally, I would have liked to heard that quartet! What part does Spratley sing?

Charles

Spratley sings a high straight-toned soprano. She probably could have been in the St. Olaf Choir because of that nice straight toned choral philosophy there!

I struggle with how worn out and compromised scripture is because we humans have manipulated the text for our own purposes. But as you have shown, there is great truth to be found if we don't bring our baggage to the interpretation.

Thank you for being part of the dialogue!