Regular and longtime readers of this space have probably figured out by now there is at least one thing in my life I am passionate about.
Admittedly, this term can be confusing for many, and create all kinds of misunderstandings. When the question arises whether someone is spiritual or religious, many people see it in dualistic terms like you must be one or the other, but you cant be both.
This is just not true.
In fact, after reading about and studying spirituality for 25 years, I would propose that before religion comes into ones life, one is already, by birthright, a spiritual person.
Although it has been attributed to various people over the years, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is credited with originating this statement: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
This implies, that just by being born, each human is a spiritual being. Indeed, some would include in that spiritual being category, all living things animals, plants, trees
Before I sat down at the keyboard this week, I looked up the term spirituality to try to get a grasp on a generally accepted definition of what it means to be spiritual.
There are, of course, many factors that go into determining this, but probably the most basic answer is this, which appeared when I googled the word. This definition is from Oxford Languages:
the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
I might elaborate on that just a bit, to say that spirituality is an effort to find meaning, in ones own life, in others lives, in the world around them, and in the events that take place in their lives.
Another description of what it means to be a spiritual person came from an article on HuffPost in 2015. This one is more detailed than the above definition, but overall (and as in anything, there are exceptions), this definition better encapsulates what it means to be spiritual in these days in which we live:
Being a spiritual person is synonymous with being a person whose highest priority is to be loving to yourself and others. A spiritual person cares about people, animals and the planet. A spiritual person knows that we are all One, and consciously attempts to honor this Oneness. A spiritual person is a kind person.
Now, in reading this definition, we can see that it does not preclude spiritual people from also being religious. For some people, they dont have a spiritual awakening for years, even though they have practiced a religion for their entire life. In fact, most world religions, in one way or another, teach the highest priority of human life is to be loving to yourself and others.
As we all know, not all religious peoples lives reflect this, however. In fact, sadly, religions can be divisive, when seen as the be all and end all of existence.
Anyway, the reason I decided to write about this topic this week, is because I was thinking about 2020 and what an unusually, pardon my language, hellish year it has been. Honestly, humanity has been blindsided this year in more ways than we ever thought possible, at least in modern times. At least that is how it seems to those of us living it out. Now.
And I know for almost everyone scratch that everyone, adjusting to these new realities has been mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually challenging scratch that word challenging exhausting.
I know and have heard of many people with heightened anxiety and other mental health issues that are directly related to the extreme uncertainty we live with now.
Each day we awaken, we wonder what life is going to throw at us today.
It cannot possibly get any worse than it is already, we think.
But then it does.
So as someone who is passionate about spirituality, I look at it this way:
In many ways, there is not a lot we can do hands-on, at least not immediately, to resolve the circumstances we find ourselves in. Many of them, especially those more medically related, take time to research and find solutions to.
Others which are more systemically related with deep, thick, sprawling roots must be addressed with much dialogue and mutual respect. No easy answers here.
At the foundation of all these attempts to find a solution, however, is the need for each one of us to tap into that spiritual side of us, that is our birthright.
For months, millions of people have been at home, afraid to go out into public; many of them elderly with few family or friends to check on them.
Others have watched helplessly as nearly 200,000 Americans have succumbed to Covid-19, or complications from the virus. They have watched as dear family and friends have died painful, awful deaths, alone in a hospital room, without anyone even being able to physically touch their skin, or say goodbye. They have grieved their losses relatively alone, without the human support they so desperately need.
Hostilities related to all kinds of situations have boiled up and exploded in recent months, and only seem to be getting worse with each passing day.
As I write this today, I do so without, GOD FORBID, any intention of stirring up yet another political debate. Life is not all about politics. It is about so much more than that.
That is where this idea of spirituality comes in.
I believe that these terrible months we have all endured, if looked at in a positive light, have been an opportunity for every single one of us to get in touch with that spiritual side with which we were born.
That doesnt mean necessarily going to church. Many people cant go to church right now.
It is something more basic than that.
It is getting in touch with a loving Reality that undergirds all the pain and alienation so many of us feel from life, from each other, from ourselves
It is sitting still, quiet, and reaching out to that loving Reality to try to find out more about that Reality, and to find some way to make sense of it all.
Not that we will make sense of it all.
I have found in my life that when we go looking for answers as to why something happened, we might as well be beating our heads against a wall.
We just cannot be assured we will get an answer as to why something happened.
We can find meaning in it.often after much time has elapsed.
We can find ways to get grounded in this loving Reality that is eternal the beginning and the end of all things.
We can find ways to acknowledge that we are not isolated beingswe are connected to one another in ways we cannot imagine or explain.
And what happens to one of us, impacts the rest of us.
We can find ways to be the spiritual beings we are.those whose highest priority is to be loving to ourselves and others.those who care about people, animals and the planet.those who know that we are all One, and consciously attempt to honor this Oneness.
those who are kind
SPIRIT MATTERSis a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.
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- 4 Women of Color Share How Spirituality Has Helped Them Heal, Rest, and Resist - Well+Good - October 19th, 2020
- Tent revival focused on spiritual breakthrough | Religion - The Mountaineer - October 19th, 2020
- Spirituality in the second half of life - Catholic Herald - October 19th, 2020
- Hot on the healers: The best spiritual practitioners in London - Tatler - October 19th, 2020
- Spirituality: Know that you represent God when you show up - Norwich Bulletin - October 19th, 2020
- UK churches urged to wake up to spiritual abuse of LGBT people - The Guardian - October 19th, 2020
- Kangana Ranaut is all praise for grounded and spiritual Will Smith, wants Bollywood to show same keenn - Times of India - October 19th, 2020
- Coronavirus has exposed a moral and spiritual vacuum. Who will fill it? - TheArticle - October 19th, 2020
- Opinion: Love, Light, and Spiritual Bypassing | Opinion, Paganism, Perspectives, Politics, Witchcraft - The Wild Hunt - October 19th, 2020
- The Office of Religious & Spiritual Life to host eighth annual Crossroads Lecture - TCU 360 - October 19th, 2020
- The Spiritual Power of Pharoah Sanders - The Vinyl Factory - October 19th, 2020
- Mission Committee strives to improve faith and spirituality among Belles - Observer Online - October 19th, 2020
- Crossing over from spiritual world of ancestors to visual art - SowetanLIVE - October 19th, 2020
- Fight the second wave with apps for financial, spiritual and physical success - USA TODAY - October 19th, 2020
- Galway clergy pledge to run each day during Level 3 for spiritual and financial reasons - The Irish Times - October 19th, 2020
- Spiritual aspects of the climate and extinction crises - Uniontown Herald Standard - October 19th, 2020
- The Covid-19 pandemic tests everyone's spiritual wellbeing, atheists and believers alike - NBC News - September 21st, 2020
- Author Shares Journey of Spiritual Discovery and Healing in New Book - GlobeNewswire - September 21st, 2020
- Assemblies of God (USA) Official Web Site | Reaping a Spiritual Harvest - AG News - September 21st, 2020
- Autumn equinox spiritual meaning: What is the meaning behind the autumnal equinox? - Express - September 21st, 2020
- One Thing I Ask of YHWH: Humility and the Spiritual Search - jewishboston.com - September 21st, 2020
- Special Online Event: Being In The Now - A Spiritual Perspective - Patch.com - September 21st, 2020
- New priests will spark a 'spiritual pandemic' - The Catholic Weekly - September 21st, 2020
- From the Pulpit: God with us in time of spiritual warfare - The Daily Times - September 21st, 2020
- Owusu Bempah gives detailed account of how things work in the spiritual realm - GhanaWeb - September 21st, 2020
- This Life: Spiritual poverty is the real problem - Sight Magazine - September 21st, 2020
- FEC Chair Says There's No Separation of Church and State, Calls 2020 Election a 'Spiritual War' - Newsweek - September 21st, 2020
- Beatification cause opened for spiritual son of Padre Pio - Catholic News Agency - September 21st, 2020
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- Sultan Hanfareh Ali Mirah, the spiritual chief of the Afars, passed away - ethiopiaobserver.com - September 21st, 2020
- 350km from Lucknow, 'Bhagwati Van' to be the spiritual tourism hub in UP - Knocksense - September 21st, 2020
- Free the Mass! A Call to Spiritual Arms for the Right to Worship - National Catholic Register - September 21st, 2020
- A Maltese artists quest for the spiritual - Times of Malta - September 21st, 2020
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- Science And Spirituality Sing Together - Wisconsin Public Radio News - September 4th, 2020
- Guiding Light: Spirituality and morality - Free Press Journal - September 4th, 2020
- Spiritual Resiliency Trips in the Holy Land - kacc.nrmc.amedd.army.mil - September 4th, 2020
- Uzbek TV Urges Battle Against 'Spiritual Viruses' (Homosexuality And Feminism) Threatening The Nation - Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty - September 4th, 2020
- Harvest Moon spiritual meaning: What does the September Full Moon mean for you? - Express - September 4th, 2020
- Spiritually Speaking: Lets hear it for our teachers - Wicked Local Norwood - September 4th, 2020
- Cardinal Parolin says there's a spiritual harmony between Francis and Benedict XVI - La Croix International - September 4th, 2020
- 'God Has Not Left Them': Operation Blessing and Others Offer Aid and Spiritual Hope for Laura Survivors - CBN News - September 4th, 2020
- Material and spiritual acts - Daily Pioneer - September 4th, 2020
- Serving those who serve others: behavioral health and spiritualitys role to encourage resiliency - United States Army - September 4th, 2020
- Reawakening Of Pagan India And The Challenge It Can Pose To Abrahamic Worldviews: Part I - Swarajya - September 4th, 2020
- Review: Essay collection Vesper Flights reveres beauty, birds and spirituality - San Francisco Chronicle - August 31st, 2020
- God Is Dead. So Is the Office. These People Want to Save Both - The New York Times - August 31st, 2020
- Safety and spirituality: Youth groups plan to meet in-person during pandemic - Roanoke Times - August 31st, 2020
- Spiritual Coffee and the Path toward Wokeness - Patheos - August 31st, 2020
- Republican National Convention kicks off with a near spiritual devotion to Trump - CNBC - August 31st, 2020
- Coronavirus Lockdowns Are Creating a Mental Health and Spiritual Crisis - The National Interest - August 31st, 2020
- They also serve who only stand and wait: Ethical and spiritual response to the covid-19 pandemic - The BMJ - The BMJ - August 31st, 2020
- Spiritual advisor says Keith Nelson is resigned to fact he will be executed Friday - WTHITV.com - August 31st, 2020
- Bushido Blade Spiritual Successor Die By The Blade Heads To Kickstarter For PS4, PS5 - PlayStation Universe - August 31st, 2020
- Korra's Spiritual Connection Goes Beyond Her Role as the Avatar - CBR - Comic Book Resources - August 31st, 2020
- Spiritual Side: Learn about services and events of local houses of worship - The West Volusia Beacon - August 31st, 2020
- Pope Francis spiritually united with pilgrims honouring Our Lady of Czestochowa - Vatican News - August 31st, 2020
- Remembering Richard The Rev Ricci: Pitt alum and spiritual force behind Night of the Living Dead - University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News - August 31st, 2020
- Without Reservation: Awakening to Native American Spirituality 08/25 by BITEradio me | Spirituality - BlogTalkRadio - August 31st, 2020
- OPINION/SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: Neither snow nor rain nor politics - Wicked Local Fall River - August 31st, 2020
- A Spiritual Walk: What is your perfect vision for healing the world? - New Baltimore Voice Newspapers - August 10th, 2020
- ISSUES OF FAITH: The spirituality of the ordinary - Peninsula Daily News - August 10th, 2020
- SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: It is our religious calling - News - Wicked Local Plymouth - August 10th, 2020
- The Orthodox Female Spiritual Leader Working with Converts - Jewish Journal - August 10th, 2020
- As coronavirus curtails travel, backyard pilgrimages become the way to a spiritual journey - The Conversation US - August 10th, 2020
- For Ottessa Moshfegh, Novel Writing Is a Spiritual Experience - The Nation - August 10th, 2020
- The role of kindness in the spiritual life - Aleteia IT - August 10th, 2020
- Why Mennonites, Lutherans and other say farming has a spiritual side - Deseret News - August 10th, 2020
- SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: A trip to the movies - Milford Daily News - August 10th, 2020
- The pandemic can be more than purgatory. It can be a time of deep spiritual formation. - The Dallas Morning News - August 10th, 2020
- Police violence meets spiritual resistance in the struggle over DAPL - NationofChange - August 10th, 2020
- Spiritually Speaking: Don't Throw Your Own Pity Party and Attend - Dallasweekly - August 10th, 2020
- Spiritual Reflections: It has been a season of humility - SW News Media - August 10th, 2020
- Live: Raising Emotionally and Spiritually Healthy Bochurim - Anash.org - Good News - August 10th, 2020
- KATHIE DEASY Ironclad sparks ideas of being armed in spiritual iron - Port Arthur News - The Port Arthur News - August 10th, 2020
- '90 Day Fianc': Kalani and Asuelu Reveal Their Rare, Unconventional Shared Spiritual Belief in New Sneak Peek - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - August 10th, 2020
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- As coronavirus curtails travel, backyard pilgrimages become the way to a spiritual journey - The Wilton Bulletin - August 10th, 2020