I grew up going to church, and I have to admit that as a child I rather liked it. It was fun to go and be in community, to sing and dance and generally be joyful together. I liked Sunday school, and the chance to be a good student. To show off my ability to memorize stories and connect themes. It wasn’t until around age 10 that the solidity of the Christian faith began to crumble before the inquiry of this innocent youth. I was asking questions the religion couldn’t seem to answer.
No problem though, because after spending my teen years in quiet rebellion against religion, I eventually came back to some spiritual understanding. At age 19 I found a spiritual path that made sense to me. And even though life was as tumultuous as ever, my own spiritual understanding had begun to take root and grow.
What made me come back to spirituality after eschewing religion was a nagging question: “For what?” For what is this all for? For what do we strive? Sort of like asking, "what's the point of all this?"
A lot of people prefer not to ask these questions, to simply live and do their best. For sure there's some wisdom to that. But something in me wouldn't let go. The call to know the deeper mystery of life was too strong. The pain of a potentially meaningless life was too much. Nothing lasts in this world. Everything passes into the abyss of yesterday. This is why spirituality has retained a central role in my life.
I'm convinced now that the human creature is a fundamentally incomplete thing, though it thrusts itself into a perpetual quest for completion, for wholeness. For most people, this quest consists of relationships, career, space to be creative, space to exercise free will. Using willpower to make attempts at feeling complete. Riding that risky edge of making life into a never-ending cycle of striving.
But for something that is fundamentally incomplete, what sense of wholeness can it find unless it transforms its quest for completion into a journey beyond itself? And to me, this is spirituality’s import. A path that I undertake consciously to go beyond my own consciousness, and to join with a larger sense of self that waits patiently just beyond the boundary of mentation. To the simplicity and certainty of simply being- the “I Am”.
This is why I honor and respect every spiritual path in as much as it does this. It gives us a route beyond our small selves, and if followed duly, into a direct connection with a larger sense of self. Perhaps we even meet with the Self that the sages speak of.
A friend shared with me an affirmation that I quite like. It goes:
"For an honest, balanced view of myself, I take a few moments each day in which I free my mind of everything except God's love for me."
And in doing so, I no longer have to ask that question. Because I've come see and know that I have meaning, that I have a place, and it's right here with me, always.