There is a space between spirituality and religion. It is the space that I inhabit.
Ask most people and they can tell you where they stand on religion. There are 4 options really…
- The Highly Religious. These are the folks who go to church every week like clockwork. They are the “names” in the church, the ones who always help out with services, with seeking offering, with outreach. When people think of prominent church members these people always come up in the discussion. They believe so strongly in their own religion that they think people who aren’t in it are going to hell.
- The Lukewarm Religious. These people do not believe in going to church in order to commune with God. Sometimes they go for whatever reason, probably for mostly social reasons. They are often mentioned during prayer group and prayer circles because either they used to be highly religious or they’ve been pegged as possibly getting there if they just get more prayer oin their behalf.
- The Non-Religious. On Easter these proud few aren’t even in a church, anywhere. In fact, for them Easter is simply about a bunny, if that, and that’s okay with them. Usually the folks who fit here are the ones who have been disillusioned by church and by church folk. They disagree with the teachings of religion so they don’t follow them at all. They may be highly spiritual but it’s their own definition they subscribe to, and it’s their own rules they follow.
- The Proudly Atheist. Have you ever noticed that you generally know when there are atheists around? That’s because for the most part they like to advertize, which is just fine. They’re proud of their belief in things other than God. They have no place for traditional religion because it all revolves around God, and that’s not their bent.
Then there’s spirituality, the belief in a higher power, that the soul is more important than the body and needs to be nourished just as the body needs to be nourished. The options for someone who is spiritual are legion. Being spiritual can mean…
- Aspiring to a deeper understanding of the universe and our place in it
- Challenging accepted norms about who we are as individuals
- Focusing on a higher power who can help us grow and change
- Communing with that higher power as we see fit
- Nourishing the soul through meditating in some way, shape, or form
Being spiritual is a state of mind while being religious is a state of belief. Religion revolves around a central meeting place for people who share those same beliefs, be it a physical or mental place. Spirituality focuses instead on the individual, and not the group, on redefining as we go along, just us and the higher power, whatever or whoever that happens to be. Keep in mind these are all my opinions. You could be both highly religious and highly spiritual, but I think it would have to be extremely difficult to be both. I think most people do fall in the space between the two.
And I’m comfortable being there. It means I don’t define myself by any church’s rules, but I do commune with God and strive to be better than I am, to understand my soul and my final destination in an ever-changing world that has many more questions than it has answers.