“Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell; spirituality is for those who have already been there.” Ross V. (from Alcoholics Anonymous)
Spirituality is like the scent of a rose: I know it by its luscious scent, but trying to describe it seems almost heretical.
Spirituality is a place and movement that allows us to see, embrace and accept our flawedness and let grace do its beautiful work. Our flawedness is the second great truth of being human; the first being that we are made in the image and likeness of a loving God.
Spirituality affords us the means by which grace enters the heart: through our wounds, our brokenness, our addictions to chemicals, people, places and things, our longings and our lostness, God uses these things to come to us, to recreate us, and to love us unconditionally into wholeness.
Spirituality is a paradox. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “paradox is truth standing on her head to attract attention.”
Religion can be a barrier, spirituality can be the doorway. Religion can prevent us from ever truly knowing and experiencing God; spirituality can promote such knowledge. Religion can foster an “us versus them” mentality. Spirituality fosters a “both/and” experience: the perfection of imperfection; the Eternal dwelling within the temporal promoting the very oneness of life. And remember that oneness is not to be confused with sameness. For spirituality draws us closer to God and allows us to see the strength of diversity and the deeper power of e pluribus unum – out of many, One.
Spirituality seeks not to recoil from our imperfections but to see and know them as the ‘cracks’ that let in God.
Spirituality points to the Beyond: beyond the ordinary; beyond my need to control; beyond my mind; beyond the confines of my rigidity leading me deeper into the ebb and flow of God’s grace.
The word spiritual, that from which spirituality comes, simply meant those who live by and are led by the Spirit. Spirituality is not about ‘having already arrived’ at ultimate wisdom but a way of life that accepts imperfections, struggles, darkness and doubt as healthy and necessary aspects of growing closer to God. All of life is contained and held by God’s eternal love, not just the ‘pretty, neat and tidy’ parts.
God wants us to be honest first and foremost before God wants us to be ‘righteous’ or ‘holy’. Spirituality is the bridge that allows me to cross over into fearless honesty with God and others, stating what is obvious to God but often oblivious to me, in order for grace to work its miracle in me and on me.
I’m not sure it makes sense or relates to this, but I will close with a well known Sufi story:
“Past the seeker, as he prayed, came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them, the holy one went down into deep prayer and cried, “Great God, how is it that a loving Creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?”
And out of the long silence, God said: “I did do something about them. I made you.”