religion vs. spirituality?
people ask why I go to church and I mention, “to have a corporate communion with others and god.” usually this gets odd looks, but it took me about 40 years to get past all the religious rules, regulations, and legalism that is so easy to get caught up in and realize God is pure love and each of us is far from perfect and we need him to help us all get along. it is a nice pipe dream of sorts. while I do believe we can do this, the human condition and man’s actions with each other, prove me incorrect again and again.
this morning, I was a bit drained with the events of people, life, deadlines and trying to help some folks that either don’t understand or don’t realize the scope of what they were asking, so I just sat there and found a seeming invisible fountain of grace seeming to wash up my heart and soul and give me a drink of grace to keep me going when I look around at the world and wonder, “what is the point?”
the secular world says it is about the acquisition of shiny objects and more stuff. the purely spiritual world is about giving up everything and simply walking in the spirit. it leaves for a wide chasm between the two extremes.
what was interesting is there is a really nice young college student who is asking lots of questions and we have a really nice guy named Deacon Pete who has been all over the planet. what was funny is listening to the “religious & historical” prose for Christianity meeting where I came out of the prodigal son global travel tour. I started getting a headache listening to the various beliefs, terminology, and ways of my denomination…finally, I answered the question, “I think God is pure love and he is sure a lot bigger when I gaze into the cosmos, and yet really small when I gaze into an electron microscope…yet, I get confused with humans thinking they know all about god. I mean you have the three Abrahamic religions all refusing to get along, and then a bunch more all saying they are the way on the planet. I think god is a bit bigger than we want to admit – and I am not sure however we get there, but if everyone loved God with all their heart, mind and soul – and really tried to treat each of our neighbors the way we wished to be treated – the planet might have a chance.”
in the past, I didn’t realize I needed help in the heart/soul/conscious area. it is a trend I see more and more in western developed society. when you have much, you don’t tend to realize you are not invincible and you are not in control of all areas of your life. maybe this is how religion got a bad rap? it is like exercise – to grow – you have to stress and stretch yourself each day. if you do the same thing over and over, what growth will you really have?
perhaps that is simply why I wonder what goes on in churches where there is not much travel or transient change. maybe it is easier for these places to fall into the realm of legalism over mercy, grace, spirituality? all I know is by traveling all over and studying the world’s religions and visiting all the various facilities – it was only then that something inside my heart changed from head living to heart living. a few days ago I mentioned it was at burningman – actually a 30-minute bike ride into the middle of the dessert that I had one of the more profound moments with nature and myself.
it is like many of the monastic monks I know. I don’t know how they can sit in one space all of their lives, yet, they wonder how I can wander about. in hindsight, I guess my journey is like many on the planet, we have human senses and are very external in our way of presenting and living. the old monks I know have no real care with the world we live in – yet possess a burning fire of love for humanity inside. I think this type of gift comes from being in one spot and getting way beyond the legalism or religion and communing with the spirit of God.
what is god? to me – pure love. a type of love so powerful that would melt each of us if we actually came into direct contact with us. can I prove this scientifically? no. is there something there? after all the work and experiences – yes there is - but all I have is faith and the belief in the unseen that something far greater and amazing is running the cosmos.
meanwhile, on planet earth, we are arguing about camels through the eye of a needle or how many angels fit on the head of a pin and missing the bigger picture.
that's ok. I am pretty sure God is very forgiving and merciful, and he realizes we are just a tiny speck in something far greater in his creation.
but that is my two cents. I got filled a bit this morning…I feel a lot better. I don’t know why the church or a monastery is painted as someplace for righteous folks to dress up and go to? shouldn’t it be looked at more a hospital or trauma center for our souls?