Spiritual, not religious

Rev. Wade Allen introduces a column on spiritual reflection.

I met a man who told me that he did not believe in God. He believed that when we die, that is the end. He found organized religion to be more than a little bit odd and recounted stories which supported his belief that it was just another place of contradiction, lies, and pain.

I could not argue with him. My own experience lent truth to the stories he told. The curious part of the conversation was that he then went on to share the ways he managed his life. Like all of us, he had a need to make sense of being here. Without purpose or dreams or hope, life is empty. For him, purpose was found in trying to make the future for his children and grandchildren better. His dream was to live a life which modelled grace and mercy in his dealings with other people. His hope was to be a good father, husband, man. He admitted that it was a struggle often and that he sometimes needed to find time to be alone and sort it all out. As it turned out, he had numerous places he could retreat to where he was alone but not lonely.

He spoke about the awe he experienced when sowing a crop and the miracle of the harvest. He named the peace which flooded him when the sun rose as he worked the land. The look of sheer bliss which came to his face was a delight to see. Once again, I was in the presence of someone who was a deeply spiritual person—spiritual, but not religious.

My hunch is that he is not alone. That most, if not all of us, are spiritual. For better or for worse, the church is no longer the place where many choose to acknowledge or live that awareness. Yet all of us need to somehow make sense of life and death, pain and suffering, joy and delight.

The root of any peace we can claim around life and death is, I believe, found in our quiet places, our secret places—the places we go when we need to make sense of it all.

I am spiritual—not religious. I do belong to a faith community which tries to make sense of life by living an intentional relationship without that presence. This column will be about exploring the relationship between that higher power and ourselves and, hopefully, naming ways we can remind ourselves that we are not alone.

There is joy, hope, and grace in that place. Take the time to be in that place.