I was quite sad to read a certain post earlier today. It talked of worship and places of worship. It made me reflect again on what worship and spirituality mean to me.
Firstly, I see spirituality as an essential part of all people, in the same way that we have an emotional, mental and physical part to our make-up.
People seek spiritual enlightenment in different ways. Even those who dismiss any notion of God are still often aware of that sense of self that goes beyond the physical, emotional and mental.
How it is developed and nurtured is, to a great extent, dependent on parental and family influence as well as any more formal worship and experiences in life.
With or without church I would be a spiritual being as we all are, I believe.
In my own case, I was raised as a Roman Catholic and received all the sacraments that are believed to encourage spiritual growth. I attended Roman Catholic schools where the ethos and message throughout was on God’s saving grace and love and our responsibility to put the awareness of these into actions.
I did question my faith as a young adult and looked to Buddhism and Judaism as possible ‘alternatives’, seeing something in them that I felt perhaps our church lacked. I studied some of the teachings and read as much as I could until I came to a conclusion. The lack was in myself.
I realised that different cultures embraced different faiths but that, ultimately, we all worshipped the same God with very similar routes to enlightenment. I knew that I believed in God, that I wanted to know more and draw closer. I knew that I could do that through the faith in which I had been raised and where I already knew so much of the ‘route’.
I chose to remain in the faith in which I had been raised and to become more enriched by it.
Others are free to do the same and find where they are most comfortable or challenged. Where they feel at home.
I have belonged to the same parish for most of my life and there have been many changes of clergy over the years. I have not always ‘liked’ certain personalities although, for the most part, we have been very fortunate in having a spiritual leader at all times, with experiences of life as diverse as their personalities and natures. Some have struggled with their own demons and, in doing so, validated themselves as part of the human experience rather than as some alien being who knew nothing of life’s experiences.
Regardless of who has been the parish priest or how much I liked or disliked their personalities, I remained with my church because the church was and is more than the man at the front.
The church is us. We, as a congregation; we, as a community; we, as a nation; and we, as a world.
The Catholic church did indeed correct what they believed to be erroneous teachings. If memory serves, they reconsidered their view of the church as a hierarchy and used the analogy of concentric circles instead. The outer circle – the church – is everyone because it is the body. From the body, others are drawn to grow more closely to the centre. In all clergy we look for guidance and, unfortunately sometimes, we are let down. The sins of the person may reflect on the church but the church is humanity. And we are all guilty of sin. We share collective culpability.
The clergy are not special beings with omnipotent powers. They are people. They have flaws and yes, they fall. As do we all.
My reason for attending a place of worship is to firstly, honour God by dedicating some special time on a chosen day to receive and be in communion with Him. I strive for this every day and in daily life. The dedicated worship is because I need it. I need to draw close to the source in that significant way.
Others may not feel that need.
I do not think that they are not spiritual. Because we all are.
Some people seek certain types of worship and I would be happy if, at times, we could have some gospel music and more happy clapping. But I also love the solemn and the serene and the ritual.
I believe my faith was a seed that was nurtured by others and has grown in me. I hope it continues to grow.
Should all church buildings be wiped off of the face of the earth tomorrow, I would miss many things about gathering together in worship. But, perhaps we would gather at lakes or mountains or in deserts or in others’ homes.
I would still, however, be a spiritual being with the need to continue to nurture that part of me as much as the physical, mental and emotional.
I probably would not have written such a post had I not read the earlier one mentioned. But I did.
This is very much who I am and where I am coming from. I fail and I fall and I move on and I try and I seek and I desire with all that is in me to be that better me; the spirit housed in the body, the spirit that is linked with the spirit of all and the source.
And we all do it in different ways. I believe.