What I believe: Spiritual, not religious
We’re inviting people of all faiths and spiritual paths to answer five survey questions for
What I Believe. Answers from one of our friends are posted in this blog.
What religion or spiritual path do you follow, and how did you come to follow it?
I consider myself a spiritual person but not religious. Growing up in the south, church and religion were thrust upon me without much explanation of relevance. I grew up resenting church. I received little comfort or satisfaction from attending, and I was aware of a fair amount of hypocrisy. Then I spent a summer with a cousin and discovered my spirituality. As she attended choir practice, I’d tag along and sing the hymns I knew and loved. When she met with committees to organize youth trips, Wednesday fellowship, and Bible school, I’d explore the church as if it were a castle. As I went deep inside the church, I went deep inside myself, and uncovered the things that made me feel peace and comfort—the beautiful stained glass windows draped in the sun’s afternoon glow, music that wrapped itself around me like a warm blanket, and the hustle and bustle of a community coming together.
What do you love about your religion/spirituality?
The heart of it is compassion. I’m always open to hearing about other religions or spiritual thought. With each encounter my vision of compassion blossoms. My eyes are open wide to the beauty and power in all people – and all faith traditions.
How does your religion/spirituality affect your everyday life?
Every morning, I look out my window and watch the sun rise above the East River. I feel moved, inspired, and comforted by its beauty. Even on the days I’m not feeling my best, I can still feel the peace that I experienced while exploring my cousin’s church. Or picking blackberries as a child. Or being on the beach. My daughter’s the same way. She looks deeply into nature and feels that underlying peace. Even as a small child, she’d say the most elaborate things, for example, about the moon. Seeing more than what’s there, and feeling the peace behind it – isn’t that what spirituality is all about?
Is there anything you wish were different about your religion/spirituality?
It bothers me when people talk about spirituality being a cop out for people who aren’t religious.
What would you want others to understand or appreciate about your religion/spirituality?
Many times throughout my life I’ve tried recapturing what I found at that small southern church, but to no avail. When I finally let go of the idea of structure and simply searched for the elements of the experience – the peace, the comfort — it all came together.
New York, New York