Tuesday, February 10, 2015

But I'm an Atheist, I can't be spiritual!?!

What are you talking about? OF COURSE you can! I am agnostic (mostly atheist but I'm hedging my bets...) but that doesn't mean I don't have an appreciation for and love of the sacred.

Warning: This next bit may offend some... Know that I think you can have whatever religious or spiritual beliefs that you want and I don't think mine should get in the way of that.

The concept of a rule book for life and an old man in the sky pointing fingers and planning my life has NEVER sat well with me. In catechism as a child I never identified with God or Jesus, maybe a little with Mary, but hey, she was a girl! I never thought people could walk on water or magically cure the sick, but I went along with it for the hour that I had to before I could go home and play "school" or "business-lady" with my classroom full of stuffed animals. 

I have always had a curiosity about religion and spirituality. For as long as I can remember I was talking about religion with friends, going to different churches and experiencing all sorts of spiritualities. In college I was part of an amazing performance group called Charisma! In this group we spent a year focused on our own spiritual life and exploring the religions of fellow cast members, culminating in a performance of original art and monologues. I took classes on religious reflection, theology of marriage, and mysticism. I've sung in all manner of churches and services. I've been to Christian mega-churches, Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Unitarian, and Jewish Services. I've meditated, done yoga, and walked the labyrinth. My relatives are Catholic, Agnostic, Atheist, Mormon and Wiccan. Suffice it to say I have explored some traditions in my time...

What I have learned from being exposed to all of these varied forms of religion, spirituality, ways of life, what ever you want to call it, is that ultimately at the end of the day we are all looking for the same thing. We want to be happy, safe and loved. We want our families, friends and lovers to be happy, safe and loved. And we want to spend our lives in ways that fulfill us and don't make us burn out.

So this is how I see it. It may be controversial as an atheist/agnostic/humanist/openly secular person to say that I am spiritual, and maybe that isn't even the right word... But I believe that each one of us can deeply affect people (directly or indirectly). I think of the sacred as a personal candle that burns within each of us. Sometimes my candle is a four-alarm fire, these are the times when I am so filled with love, inspiration, excitement, and ideas that I almost can't handle it. Sometimes my candle is a barely flickering ember, doing its best not to get snuffed out by the sadness and suffering in my world. But ultimately the candle NEVER goes out which means that someone can come along (maybe just a better happier version of myself) who can fan the flame a little, breathe life back into the little candle that could... Fanning the flame can be as simple as reading a silly article on Facebook, having an AMAZING cup of coffee, kissing my boyfriend, or as complicated as recognizing it is time to make a big transition like having surgery, going back to school or finding a new job.

Spirituality is personal, it is powerful, and it doesn't need to be a formal practice or come with thousands of years of history. It CAN and if it does for you, then FANTASTIC! But for me just being present, even for a moment, spending time with the people I love and who love me... THAT is spirituality!

Some resources:

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