I've been around "religion" for all of my life. My father is an Episcopal priest. I'm currently an active Lutheran; have been for 20+ years. This absolutely does not mean a thing except to me. I've given religion lots and lots and lots of thought.
Through out my years of attending many, many Sunday services, prayer groups, Bible studies, counseling, 12-step meetings, college courses, marriage, eating, sleeping, playing the piano, composing music, directing church choirs, reading books, watching television, working, talking to friends, bulletin board debates, star gazing and walking along ocean sea shores -- in other words, living life -- I have come to the following conclusion: There is a difference between Religion and Spirituality
. (I've said this on more than one post in more than one thread on more than one bulletin board.) It's a concept that has brought a lot of freedom to my life, believe it or not. Basically, I'm a person who needs to "see the evidence". There are moments when I "see" no god or no diety at all anywhere. And there are moments when I can't imagine life without some kind of creator or "higher power". And there a moments when I feel peace. And there are moments when fear has a strangle hold of my being.
I have come to the conclusion that religion -- all religions -- are man-made. This includes Christianity. Does this mean that Jesus never walked on this Earth? No. Not necessarily. But in my eyes, the ONLY proof that Jesus might have existed is found in a book called the "Bible" (more specifically, the "New Testiment") which has many translations, retold, recopied and rewritten by many different people throughout the centuries. From a historical point of view, there are more books providing evidence that Aristotle or Homer or Plato existed than books providing evidence for the existance of Jesus Christ. THAT says something to me. Add that to the fact that even 2000 years later, Christians are becoming more splintered and divided than united over who Jesus was back then. That also says something to me.
But I was born into a Christian household. Believe it or not, I'm at peace with that. Christianity is my religion with Lutheranism my denomination (although I consider myself more of an ecumenicalist). Values and morals that I hold dear to my heart are based on what I've learned from the Christian religion.
Still, I am keenly aware that I could have easily been born into a Jewish household or a Muslim household or a Buddist household or a Hindu household. Anyone of us could have, I believe. And within each different religion there exists splintering and division over THEIR theology, THIER dogmas and THIER morals. Religion. Human kind's attempt to understand dieties, morals, life and death. Man-made.
Spirituality. Different story. To me, spirituality is simply finding that peace within one's self; a kind of self-actualization. It also involves peace with one's relationship to the world; an acceptance of a interconnectiveness between self and others, self and the environment, self and "other than self". Spirituality may or may not involve a god or diety or higher power
. Spirituality, to me, involves honest introspection. Spirituality is acceptance. It is peace. And to me it involves love.
Now, at one point in my life, I experienced a "realization" that I am not alone. (I experienced more than one "realization", actually.) I believe that this "realization" is some kind of higher power; that it is some kind of "creator of all things". And I have grown to believe that this "higher power" is love-focused. At this point in time in my life, I see no need to further define this "higher power". In my mind, this "higher power" could easily be someone's "Jesus" or "Buddha" or Hindu diety or Allah. Or not! But to me, it's a loving power, other than myself, that helps me find that inward peace that I so crave.
Let me share to you one "realization" moment. I was sitting in a church listening to members of the Boston Sympany Orchestra play a Bach's chorale. Each note played by each musician intertwined with eachother in such a manner that brought tears to my eyes. This peaceful swirling of notes resonating within my ears and within my heart was in itself proof that there was a "creator of all things"; and that this "creator of all things" existed in Bach; and that this "creator of all things" existed in each of the musicians" and that this "creator of all things" existed within me providing a peace so rarely experienced by myself at that time in my life. For a moment's time, things seemed to make sense. For a moment's time, I accepted life as I knew it back then; I accepted death; I accepted great joy; I accepted profound sorrow. For a moment's time. . . . I Accepted and I found this "loving peace".
Some people would call this "moment" some kind of surge in brain activity and/or a rise in some kind of hormonal levels. And if they believe that??? That's just fine with me. Because it could very well have "just" been a brief rise in the "natural opiate" levels in my brain. (I don't remember the more scientific term. :imbar)
But boy, what a wonderful and memoriable rush!
Another "realization" moment can easily be reproduced when I listen to Stephen Sondheim's musical, Into the Woods
. To my musical ears, intellectual mind and soul-searching heart, this "show" is profound on many, many levels. (I could go on for paragraphs and explain why this is so!
). But to me, Sondheim's Into the Woods
also gives example (at least to me) of a "higher power". This "higher power" worked though Sondheim who worked through his music and lyrics to share to me a "moment" of peaceful acceptance to both life and death.
So, to me, Spirituality does involve a "higher power". It doesn't have to, though. I find this "higher power" through living life. More intensely, I find this "higher power" through well-created music. And I'm grateful for these "realization moments"!!
I've rambled on long enough. . . .
I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for. I'm sure that when you get down to it, everyone's story of their god and their religion is unique. I'm sure that your story is and will be too.