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No Place for Spirituality

In this pop-culture saturated postmodern world, spirituality just isn't cool. I know a lot of peoplelook at me funny, some of my friends included, if I speak about my religion or spiritual journey.

I also know it isn't cool because when this woman asked me, "Do you ever think about spiritual things?" I thought she was crazy.

Granted, that's not usually the first question you ask a person when you see them walking by. Thischick and her friend said they were following the path of the Early Christians, and I wondered if they were trying to proselytize me. On the other hand, maybe they just recognized someone on her own journey and wanted to have a conversation with her.

I won't get into the conversation I had with them – that's another story – but a question sat at the back of my head. Why is it so strange to have someone ask you about yourspiritual beliefs? Why do we assume that if someone does mention religion or spirituality, it means they are out to convert us?

When I feel comfortable doing so, I enjoy discussing my religion and spiritual journey, not because I want people to convert to my beliefs, but because it's something that is deeply a part of me, and when I am getting to know people, sharing that is a way I feel closer to them. Ialso very much enjoy hearing about other people's faiths and spiritual experiences, be they similar or dissimilar to my own. I think that's why I continue to be active, or at least try to make the time to be, in the Friends' Community, because there people make spaces for people to share their experiences. And although members of my religion do follow some common dogma, for lack of a better term (though many Quakers like to think they don't have dogma, but let's not get into that), there is still an incredible diversity of spiritual experience there, so I get to learn a lot. Being able to share and hear other sharings is very fulfilling for me.

I feel very sad that I do not often feel comfortable sharing that part of me with many of my friends, even those I deeply love and I know they care for me. Not that I'd bring it up out of the blue, but if something's pertinent... I still won't raise it for fear of being "uncool." Maybe that's incredibly silly of me. Maybe there's something really there. Some of my friends have asked me to explain why as a Quaker I may believe or practice something (like I try to practice nonviolence), but don't seem to accept the answer. Maybe I don't explain it well. Maybe they were expecting to hear something else.

I think about the "New Age Hippie Freaks" with their crystals and whatnot, and I think although many are perhaps a little too "far out" – and those who play the external game but there seems to be no true internal motivator – I have a lot in common with them. I meditate, I believe in reincarnation, I believe in spirits, I believe patterns of the universe show up in strange and interesting ways and I like to look after them. I think of the Earth as a mother and on my good days everyone on Her as my siblings. I shouldn't be ashamed of that.

And ultimately, I am writing this because I want to tell myself all this, and not necessarily anyone else, though if you do get something out of reading this I am glad.

I know there are loonies out there who use spirituality and/or religion as a mask for something else, be it fear, greed, or loneliness. But all of us have a spirituality – Rev. Bill Rich said, "Spirituality is the way you find connection with the universe." And I think when people want to share how they connect, it's a way of trying to connect with another person. I'm not saying we should just go outside and share our deepest innermost experiences with the first person we run into on the street. I'm just saying that we needn't be afraid of doing that. And we especially needn't be afraid of doing so with our loved ones. I am challenging myself not to shove the realms of the spirit, mysticism, or religion into the "uncool" category. If you wish to join me, you are more than welcome.


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All original materials © 2003 R. Pickard