Tag Archives: religion
Among the many highlights of our recent trip to the great American west, we visited Bryce Canyon. There were moments when I wondered if it was worth it. We drove out of Las Vegas to Zion National Park, did a quick tour through that amazing slice of wilderness, then headed onwards. It was a lot of driving in a single day. Just before we hit Bryce Canyon, storm clouds gathered as if to dampen our spirits. As we reached the top of the ridge overlooking the canyon though, I was speechless.
Bryce Canyon is one of those places where it’s hard not to take a good picture. Everywhere you look, there is beauty, stone and earth shaped and formed over millions of years into a vivid and mesmerizing landscape. My brain and heart sort of got quiet, and I was able to worship second by second in that natural cathedral. What an amazing place! And I was there, in first person.
No postcards. No Youtube video. No photo slideshow.
Some things are just worth seeing in person.
Working at a church, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things – babies being born, families finding hope in the midst of grief, people of all ages turning over a new leaf, leaders discovering their call, and addicts hearing that they are loved. And for all of my own struggles and misgivings that I have had about organized religion over the years, it humbles me that my life intersects with other strangers, and we have the opportunity to learn and grow and wonder together. Religion is an ancient thing, like that canyon, with well-traveled paths that draw people into communion to marvel together at the mystery and beauty in Creation.
From the outside, it might not seem worth the drive or the effort… but when you get up close, you just may be surprised at what you find.
Where have you seen something beautiful this week? When has your heart and brain quieted down so you could just be? What do you wish you could see at the Table or another church that would connect you to God in a powerful, moving way?
At the pub, we reflected on the question from Banned Questions about Jesus – why did Jesus say “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” on the cross? What did it mean? Did Jesus feel separated from God in that moment? And can Jesus, who is supposed to be God, even be separated from… himself? What?
The challenge of understanding a concept like the Trinity, a God who knows the same despair that we humans can feel, a Christ who knows what it is like to be abandoned – these were some of the themes lifted up last night.
I couldn’t remember a quote that highlighted my own thoughts on this question. It’s from the book, Breathing Under Water, by Richard Rohr.
“Religion is lived by people who are afraid of hell. Spirituality is lived by people who have been through hell.”
I find some hope in the fact that Jesus, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, lived deeply into his humanity. It was not just a sliver of his existence and life. God was fully human, experiencing the deep feelings of loss and confusion and separation that can often cloud our human lives. The deeper the isolation, one of our participants said last night, the more meaningful the cross and the resurrection.
Are you a spiritual person?
Are you a religious person?
At one time in our culture, I don’t think anyone would accept that you can answer each of those questions differently. If you are spiritual, surely, you are religious. Or, if you are religious, surely, you have to be spiritual?
So many people in our communities have spiritual lives that may exist outside of a church or some other formalized institution. Spirituality can be a simple thing after all – finding connection with nature, spending time with the homeless at a local shelter, resting for an hour of silence in the corner of one’s home, hiking a long trail, digging up a flower bed in one’s backyard, cooking a big meal for family or friends, watching a moving film, and so on. All human beings are spiritual in one way or another, even if it doesn’t come with a sacred text, rules, or regular schedule.
For me, my spiritual life is connected to the time I spend with my family and time I spend with my imagination – reading books, watching movies, and playing games. I also deeply connect to God through music. Not only am I fed on a personal level, but I find my everyday spirituality strengthened and broadened from some of these activities.
How do you feed your spirituality? How do you connect the Holy in your life?
This Sunday, we close out our balance series by exploring our relationship with God as something that is part of our intricate balancing act in our lives. Join us!