Offerings 1.31.08

Fulfilling spiritual life can never come through imitation, it must shine through our particular gifts and capacities as a man or woman on this earth. This is the pearl of great price. Jack Kornfield

My mother is catholic, my father was a methodist – and she tried, she did, to raise me to be a good little catholic girl. I can remember going to church dressed up like a little Shirley Temple doll. Dress, gloves, hat, the shoes that had several straps going up your ankle and these retched textured tights. I’d sit on the pews and think about how uncomfortable I was with those tights digging into my legs on the wooden pews, how silly it all was, how much I just wanted to get home again.

I was born skeptical, independent and unlikely to fall into line with any “group” and for those reasons I have not lead a religious life but do lead a spiritual one.

Terry Tempest Williams, a marvelous, inspiring writer best summarizes for me the differences between religion and spirituality when she writes-

Religion brings us into community with a shared set of beliefs, symbols, and songs. We can choose to be internally engaged or not. The religion moves forward whether we are present or not. The religion goes forward whether we are present or not. The rules are written. Those in authority tell us what do do. It is, for the most part, comfortable and supportive. We are known. We belong to a congregation and we are taught to worship a creed “the result and fruit of many minds… Purified from all the oddities, shortcomings, and flaws of individual experience.” There are answers to be found. It is a peace we can borrow. We learn compliance, cooperation, and sacrifice. We can bask in the warmth of feeling part of an organism that knows its place in the world.

Spirituality is solitary. Its compliance is conflict, a gnawing at the soul that cannot be ignored. We are engaged. There are no rules. There are no maps. We live with the discomfort and ambiguity of our own authority. At times, it is lonely, often informed by pain. On other occasions, it is the body submerged in a phosphorescent tide, every movement sparking a trail of illumination. Afterwards, we sit on the shore in moonlight. No candles are necessary. Spirituality exists when we are present, buoyed up by the waters of attention. We learn the courage of faith. It is peace that is earned. We can take solace in the heat of doubt knowing that is the pulse of poetry.


3 Responses to “Offerings 1.31.08”

  1. Shirley Temple doll- exactly! I was toted to Mass dressed the same, but in patent leather Mary Janes (that pinched and rubbed my heels raw). Pure torture.

    Feed me the pulse of poetry instead.

  2. i spent time during my youth searching through religions trying to find something that made sense to me…it is only now that i’m finally learning that what i’m looking for has been inside of me all along….

  3. This really hit home with me. Thanks for posting it.

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