Monday, March 21, 2011

Spiritual Affiliation: LIFE

Thanks to a conversation of comments on my last blog post (comments that were posted on Facebook--feel free to find and "friend" me there!), I've made changes to my profile for the Spiritual Directors International directory known as the "Seek and Find Guide". Among the comments that helped to convince me to go back and choose that "Other" option that I had paused over before were these:

"Go with much more space there. One of my favorite definitions of enlightenment: 'lots of space...nothing holy.'"

This time, when the profile form asked for my Spiritual Affiliation, I chose "Other" which led me to the opportunity to say something further in thirty-three characters or less. In the box provided I wrote:

LIFE: gratitude, amazement, art

That pretty well used up my thirty-three characters (if you include spaces)!

In addition to the comments on Facebook, I received a very thoughtful email from someone who wondered aloud: "Can we think about a sense of self-defined spirituality? Is it possible to consider spirituality as not always related to a particular set of religious beliefs?"

And I would add, knowing that religions are about more than beliefs--is it possible to consider spirituality as not necessarily related to the whole collection of customs and practices (as well as beliefs) that make up a religious tradition?

I do know that it was sometimes a source of great distress for me when I was ordained even to acknowledge at first and then to honor and feel OK about (feeling at least OK would have been the first step on the road toward eventually celebrating!) the fact that my spirituality seemed to be quite different from and other than and apart from the tradition I was representing in my preaching, teaching, and  ministry. More and more I wondered if it even made sense to consider myself a "Christian."

In fact, as I've written before elsewhere in this blog, I never felt entirely free to acknowledge even to myself and then to explore what it would mean to say my spirituality had next to nothing to do with Christianity! And yet I longed for that freedom. My soul was pleading, prodding, and pulling me toward the freedom to discover what would "be there" if I scrapped the whole God-in-religion thing and started from scratch. Started from my own embodied, earth-bound, earth-delighting experience.

I suppose I may have imagined the question was whether I would arrive at some sort of "faith," or not. Not a recognizable, fit in an existing label sort of faith, but an outlook, an orientation, a "spiritual affiliation" that I could articulate to others.

And even though I remain reluctant to do too much articulating and defining, most days it seems I've arrived enough to be able to declare that my spiritual affiliation is with Life, via gratitude, amazement, and art. I can live with that!


Mary Wieneke said...

Kudos, Sukie ... these journeys take time and reflection, and often continue to unfold, in meandering and purposeful ways, both ...

Sukie Curtis said...

Thanks for your comment, Mary. And yes, these journeys do continue to unfold. Most often the unfolding feels meandering to me, in the midst of it. Sometimes the purposeful aspect appears in retrospect.

And I suppose that the continuing unfolding process is part of my reluctance to try to nail down too precisely just what my "faith" or "spiritual affiliation" is. "Evolving" is another word I might use for it. "Fluid." Which kind of reminds me of something... more to come!