I was taken aback the other day when our son mentioned in passing, “Well, I didn’t grow up in a spiritual household”. It made me ponder the nature of spirituality. I don’t believe that religion and spirituality are the same thing, but what do I mean by spirituality? We didn’t talk much about it as the kids were growing up, that’s for sure, because there were many years when I didn’t know what I believed any more, and it’s hard to talk about that. I thought of myself as an agnostic until one day I made a casual comment about the lack of an afterlife, which made me suddenly aware that I’d made my decision unconsciously; I no longer believed in God.
Starting from there leads to obvious questions. What are we here for? What happens when it’s over? Is there any great meaning in what I do during my lifetime? Looking back, maybe I should have brought up these questions with the kids; and perhaps, had I still been a practicing Pentecostal it would have been easier to present answers to those questions. After all, that’s what religions do best and why they were invented in the first place. (We’re here to do God’s will and spread his Word. We will go to Heaven once we die- as long as we’ve accepted Jesus as our Personal Saviour. Yes, they use a lot of Capitals). Since I’d finally given up trying to believe all that, what could I tell the kids? “There’s probably nothing after you die.” “You have to find your own meaning in life.” “You better enjoy the process, because that’s all there is.” Hardly comforting to a small child. I thought it better to avoid the subject as much as possible, thus Travis came to the conclusion that we were not a spiritual family. Unconsciously, perhaps, I didn’t want to influence them into thinking the way I did, since I knew they’d go through their own spiritual questioning, and wouldn’t it be easier not to have to discard baggage before starting?
In the years that followed our decision to quit church, we each spent time wondering about the meaning of life; in fact, my husband tried Buddhism for a short period, I embraced Hatha Yoga, so was somewhat influenced by Hinduism I suppose; but neither of us has ever been strongly tempted to join any religion again. Despite the many insights and words of wisdom they have to offer, they are too fraught with contradictions and weaknesses to take seriously as a whole; to say nothing of the horrific things that have been done (and continue to be done) in their names.
Since writing the above, I’ve been letting my subconscious mind grapple with it. It has shared this with me: my connection with the spiritual is really with the Earth. The garden, the other animals we share the world with, the other planets and the stars with which Earth shares space; contemplating and observing these are what brings me to what I call a spiritual place. They are what bring solace and comfort to my heart on a daily basis. Thanks, Travis, for bringing me to this realization and may you enjoy your own spiritual journey.
Here’s something to contemplate life by: Brahms Violin Concerto played by Jascha Heifetz and the Chicago Symphony.