Yesterday in an email a friend asked me about my spirituality. First off, I admired her boldness and bravery. There aren't many of us who will so willingly bed down on that mattress of nails. Secondly, although I know how I feel about what I believe and don't believe, I've never actually been asked (nor have I forced myself) to define it. It took me several hours and a long walk in the snow to finally come back and pen a (hopefully) decent reply.
In pondering what I would post here today, I decided to post her original query and my response. Many of you already know where I stand, but for those of you who don't and/or are reading this for the first time, here's the caveat: This will not be a smarmy post about God's love and my personal relationship therein. Neither exists for me. This is also not my attempt to Christian bash. What you believe is up to you and I am here neither to judge nor change that. Either you're secure in that belief or you're not. So, if what I say rankles you... well... you've already been warned. One final note: Pray for me all you want, but do it quietly... over there. You cannot change my feelings on this. I've done a lot of soul searching and I firmly believe what I believe without compunction or regret.
Now then, what follows is the question my friend posed and my answer to her.
"Got a question for ya :) Do you consider yourself a spiritual person? Maybe I should ask how you define "spirituality". It seems that today people are all over the map on it :)"
Oh boy. Why don't you ask me something difficult?! I actually read your email hours ago and have been pondering the response to this question since. Trying to define spirituality (especially one's own) is like trying to thread a needle while wearing boxing gloves. (Apologies to Fairground Attraction - although they actually sang, “It‘s like threading a needle with boxing gloves when you try to talk about love.” Which to me implies that you‘re trying to push the boxing glove itself through the needle. Anyway!)
My definition: Spirituality is the act of centering oneself using metaphysical means.
My own spirituality has gone through many metamorphoses - and yes, I do consider myself a highly spiritual person. That being said, I do not believe in any traditional god, nor do I subscribe to any religious dogma. Having grown up a Christian, I came to a point of questioning and not finding adequate answers that I 'gave up' on the idea of that god. Besides that, it turned out that I absolutely could not make myself believe that Christ is God (perhaps because from my sardonic viewpoint I see it as an overly abused notion). I looked into other theologies and none of them answered my questions either. I bill myself as a polyatheist (a bit of wordplay on those who claim to be polytheists), and say that there are several gods I don't believe in. As smartass as it sounds, it's really quite true. So, I invented my own "theology"... my doggereled dogma having run off under the light of the moon one night.
Still, I am a highly spiritual creature. You can't be surrounded by the natural beauty as I am and be spiritually numb. I think that what others see as a singular god, I see more as the ghost in the machine, a universal energy - the interconnectedness we all share with each other and everything that surrounds us (picture an intricately woven tapestry, if you will). Yes, that's a somewhat buddhist approach, and that probably comes closest to my belief system. I do firmly believe in karma, that the things we put out "there" come back to us, whether good or bad. I believe that each of us have a reason for existence... the life we're given is a path (I often refer to this idea on my blog) and that people cross our paths at certain times, and while seemingly by coincidence, never without design. The events in our lives are like the variations in a path along a nature trail - sometimes rocky, even precarious, sometimes dark, sometimes full of sunlight and warmth, there are nearly impassible woods, wide open fields, danger lurks, beauty charms... regardless, we each have a specific journey - destination unknown. (This is where I also argue against the idiom "half the fun is getting there." I say, "No. ALL the fun is getting there.")
So, there you have it... the crux of my belief system. I'm attaching two articles (A Gypsy, A Dog, and a Mountain and 10 Things for 2009) that I wrote as a sort of support of what I've been trying to say. Or maybe in conjunction with what I've been trying to say. Right or wrong, I can only add that my spirit has never been as content (while never for a moment complacent - which used to be the case) as it has for the past couple of years.
Can't wait to see your response!
The Wayward Gypsy