Yesterday’s post mused on the growing DIY culture. And, yes, my musings were a thinly disguised attempt to rationalize the fact that I DON’T want to do everything myself. I do not have the time, energy, inclination, or skill to tackle many of the tasks in my life. I respect and admire the skills of others, and am happy to seek their help. An expert can tackle the task at hand with efficiency and ability honed from experience and knowledge in their field.
Too often our independent, Do It Yourself mentality flows over into our spiritual life. How often do you hear, “I may not be religious, but I’m spiritual.” Or how about, “I don’t need religion. My spirituality is between God and me.” Can we ‘go it alone’ in matters of the spirit?
As with many things, I believe the truth is found between two extremes. On the one hand we can have an unhealthy dependence on the organized aspects of religion. We become so wrapped up in rituals, dogma and rules that we neglect our personal relationship with the Divine. On the other hand, we reject completely the “trappings” of organized religion as burdensome and even dysfunctional. We don’t need to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. My relationship with God is between God and me.
Christianity is an incarnational faith. God is more than a luminous, feel-good spirit. We believe that God became one of us to show us how to encounter God in the flesh and blood of everyday life. God can be discovered in the words and actions of another. God moves us in the inspirations and creativity of mind and heart. God speaks to us in creation, and in the events of the world. And God is present in community, where two or more are gathered.
The analogy of the cross is used to describe the vertical and horizontal aspect of faith. The vertical arm connects us to the heavens. The horizontal arm grounds us here on earth. God is present in both. And, in order to seek a balance in our spiritual life, we must attend to both.
The great religions of the world connect our relationship with God to our relationship with others. Divine grace is lived out in the earthiness of daily life. Love for God is translated into love of neighbour. Seeking spiritual peace is not for personal gratification. It is meant to overflow into our words and actions so there may be more peace in our world.
I do believe that you can find God outside of organized religion. For those who have been hurt or become disillusioned with organized religion, it can be more of a hindrance than a help. But seeking God with integrity and honesty can be a difficult task. And, as with all difficult tasks, it’s made easier with the help and support of others.
What do you do if you do not find this support in the traditional parish community? Where do you find support for your spiritual journey?