Imagine you are sitting in a religious service in any church or spiritual setting. The presider arrives to address the assembled and says, “You can spend your life trying to figure out the meaning of life and how it came to be and why we’re here and you won’t because you can’t. Actually folks, we don’t know. In fact, all we have is speculation, stories, and things which point to why we believe or do what we do. That’s all. We’re all born. We rejoice, we suffer, we have offspring, we work, and we die. Some of us wonder why we’re here and what it all means. Some of us have ‘spiritual experiences’ which point to incredible majestic indescribable thresholds. We really and truly don’t know the why. We have ideas how it may have unfolded, how the process works, what consciousness might be, and a lot of facts. Increasingly, many believe consciousness continues beyond this life, and that we relied too much on facts, taking them for Truth. Things like gravity, which don’t exist outside our orbit . . . things like time, which is a construct to help us organize our lives. Previous boundaries and beliefs are falling and failing with new discoveries. ‘God is love’ you say, but there are millions of definitions of love, and most of them only point to the experience. Language is too limiting. Doctrines are confining. Beliefs are subjective.”
The presider continues, “You can come at this riddle from any of the thousands of religions since the beginning of human history, from physics, the arts, geology, philosophy, psychology, astronomy, cellular biology, evolution, or theology . . . but at the heart of the matter is the big mystery of it all. Life IS. Appreciate that. Have compassion for all your fellow travelers. Listen more, talk less, learn all you can. Maintain your curiosity and sense of wonder, and take time to appreciate how special it all is, what you’ve learned, where you’ve come from, and face the future in anticipation with a spirit of adventure and appreciation.”
There is silence so dense. Utter quiet emptiness. You are stunned, maybe puzzled and annoyed. You came to be inspired, encouraged, empathized with, comforted, and uplifted. You wanted certainty, answers from a Good Book read and taught with conviction, sitting alongside fellow believers. Then the whispers began. Some seethed with anger because they had all the answers and knew how to do it better as they shoved arms into sleeves and stomped out. Some were baffled, confused and disappointed. Maybe one or two agreed, with a sense of relief, that they too felt this way, grinned, and felt like they were in on a big secret, encouraged.
I appreciate the opportunity to have written over 180 articles for Columbus Interfaith
Spirituality Examiner. Since beginning, the Summer of 2008, we’ve explored the nuances of several types of Christianity in depth, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikh and Jain faiths, Bahai, Mormon, Wiccan, Islam, Confucianism, Tao, and many of the world’s other religions and religious/spiritual practices. It’s been a great joy writing/exploring/discovering and sharing. Thanks for reading.
Meditations for this post:
. . . “in relation to the tendency to distance God’s life from our life, MacLeod emphasized the fact that we are in touch with God every moment that we live, ‘for the simple reason that God is life: not religious life, nor Church life, but the whole [of] life . . . God is the Life of life.’ Spiritual awareness, then, was about being aware of God in the midst of the change and movement and flow of life, in the rising of the morning sun, in the work and relationships of daily life, in the great struggles of society and nation, in alertness to the interior life of the soul, in times of rest and sleep and even dreaming. God is at the heart of all life, in both the visible and invisible. We don’t have to try to reach God through acts of devotion, for God is closer to us than our very breath.” p 76 Listening for the Heartbeat of God, A Celtic Spirituality J. Philip Newell
1 "Existence is beyond the power of words to define: terms may be used but none of them absolute. In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words, words came out of the womb of matter; and whether a man dispassionately sees to the core of life or passionately sees the surface, the core and the surface are essentially the same, words making them seem different only to express appearance. If name be needed, wonder names them both: from wonder into wonder existence opens.” p 31 The Way of Life according to Lao Tzu
Check out this variety of Spirituality meet-up groups, mostly alternative/new age:
Visit the Spirituality network site http://www.spiritualitynetwork.org/events.html and Wellstreams Spiritual Center http://www.wellstreamscolumbus.org/calendar.html which is offering several courses this Spring: Introduction to Reiki March 6th & 13th and Caring for the Inner Child March 20th
Interfaith association of Central Ohio posted notice of an upcoming Multi-ethnic Advocates of Cultural Competence 10th anniversary gala April 25th. Event will be held at the Ohio Historical Society. See http://iaco.org/2013/02/02/celebrating-our-cultural-kaleidoscope-maccs-10th aniversary/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+iaco+%28IACO%29
Check back with the TLS.org website for Trinity Lutheran Seminary which is hosting the Nelson W. Trout Lecture Series April 18th-19th. Bishop Walter S. Thomas, Sr. will be speaking. Bishop Thomas is Pastor of New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
Check out the Shalem Center in Worthington. This is a group dedicated to healing and growth among individuals, groups and organizations employs Aramaic and Sufi prayer practice, interfaith (and Christian) practice and offers psychotherapy. http://www.shalemcenter.org/Home_Page.html
This week, March 6th, listen to talks from a Palestinian and an Israeli who each lost loved ones. The talk is titled ‘Sharing Pain, Sharing Hope, Partnership for Peace’ at 7pm Gateway Theater 1550 N. High St. This event is free and is a partnership between the Jewish Federation of Columbus, Congregation Tifereth Israel, Noor Islamic Cultural Center and Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for ticketing information.
Check out the non-profit Philosopher’s Center which will be exploring ‘what we know, how we know it, and why its important’ in an upcoming lecture March 15th at the Upper Arlington Senior Building 2 on Ridgeview Rd. Visit www.averysolomon.com for more information.
47 “There is no need to run outside for better seeing, nor to peer from a window. Rather abide at the center of your being; for the more you leave it, the less you learn. Search your heart and see if he is wise who takes each turn: the way to do is to be.” p 75 The Way of Life according to Lao Tzu