Friday, August 26, 2005

In search of spirituality

Newsweek has pegged it again. They dedicated their summer double issue (Aug. 29/Sept. 5) to the most important topic today: spirituality.

The main article "In Search of Spirituality" starts by referring to the Time article from 1966, "Is God Dead?" After some fascinating observations about the 1966 article, Newsweek says:

"What was dying in 1966 was a well-meaning but arid theology born of rationalism: a wavering trumpet call for ethical behavior, a search for meaning in a letter to the editor in favor of civil rights. What would be born in its stead, in a cycle of renewal that has played itself out many times since the Temple of Solomon, was a passion for an immediate, transcendent experience of God."

How true is this? My thinking is that it exactly tracks with all that I've heard or experienced about spirituality for the last ten years.

Now, when people call me for spiritual help and healing, they're demanding not just words but a *feeling.* They want to feel the presence of the Divine in their lives, in their hearts. It's become a waste of time to quote inspirational passages at someone and expect that to help them. What I spend more time encouraging people to do is to put aside their books and rituals and instead *commune* deeply with Spirit. And I try to write in this blog about *how* to do that.

What I find also, though, which the Newsweek article doesn't cover, is sometimes a resistance to what this communion implies — transformation. People love to feel God's presence when it comforts and inspires them; it's not always as easy to feel the real whap that comes when you need to change something fundamental within yourself in order to grow further. To let go of your fears and even sins (such as resentment, self-justification and the like) and be reshaped by Spirit. Perhaps this is the next phase.

Sometimes I ponder how to help people through the times of struggle. What a wonderful thing it would be if we could all support and love each other through our transformations. I sometimes envision a spiritual community where people could bring the things they're struggling with and can find encouragement, love and acceptance to support them. Unfortunately, at this point, often our spiritual community is the *last* place we'll confess to be struggling.

But what tremendous growth would occur if we could bring our struggles to the altar, and find there both Spirit and companionship on the journey. For certainly someone in this spiritual group would be on the other side of whatever situation we're facing. And they'd be able to joyously assure us that the struggle is worth it, that we'll find our answers, and that they're behind us all the way. Personally, I think that would help a lot.

It seems like the next logical step. As more and more people commune directly with Spirit, they're going to want to share what they've learned with each other. This sharing will not be to develop doctrines or procedures, but to reveal the infinite nature of Spirit and how it communicates with us. No one else will experience exactly what I experience, but my talking about my experiences will open the thought of others to finding their own individual connection with the Divine. And when we hear what another has learned, our own concept of the Divine expands and we become more open as well.

I hope you'll check out the Newsweek articles. And let me know what you think!

The calm, strong currents of true spirituality, the manifestations of which are health, purity, and self-immolation, must deepen human experience, until the beliefs of material existence are seen to be a bald imposition, and sin, disease, and death give everlasting place to the scientific demonstration of divine Spirit and to God's spiritual, perfect man.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 8/26/2005 09:27:00 PM, Blogger Rev. Veronika Birken said...

Dear Laura,
How I can understand the longing for a Spiritual Companion who is there for us with compassion and understanding, accompanying us on our inner journey Home. We do have such a companion: the Holy Spirit. He is in us in a very literal sense. He is the Voice for God in us. I can turn to Him with every concern. He truly is like a dear Friend, listening to all my little worries and healing them all by correcting my mistaken thoughts.
In love and friendship, Veronika

At 8/28/2005 03:26:00 PM, Anonymous Carrie said...

I <3 this post... for other reasons then from the e-mail... you know what's cool too? when you're actually ready to be transformed (like totally there) it feels really good, less like losing something and more like letting go of stress.

At 8/28/2005 11:49:00 PM, Blogger karen gsteiger said...

Hi Laura,

Just dropping by to say hi! I hope your daughter is having a blast at college...I'm so jealous of her...I MISS my undergrad years!

Anyway, you bring up an excellent point about how people need room to struggle and grow in their spirituality. Many times, doubts and questions are interpreted as weakness, which I think is what drives people away from their religious communities altogether. Because no one should feel guilty about struggling...God gave us our brains to ask questions with!

Have a good week!



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