Sunday, March 15, 2009

What Does Spirituality Mean to You?

I converted to Quakerism in part because I agreed with the minimal nature of worship. No stained glass, no ornate furnishings, no liturgy, no programmed ministry. These were elements of my religious past before which seemed like needless ritual; put simply, they interfered with my connection with God. As a matter of fact, I read later that the first Quakers felt this same way about the faith traditions from which they had come all those hundreds of years ago. This new way of worship that they developed was for them the right balance between spiritual and connected to God.

If I attend a traditional programmed worship service of another faith, it feels spiritual, but I feel a kind of disconnect, too. In retrospect, I realize that I always have. However well-intentioned it might be, the ritual gets in the way. My girlfriend, however, has a completely different response. Raised as a Quaker (though, as she points out, she is technically a Convinced Friend (convert) from the age of two onward, the pomp and circumstance of a traditional Christian worship service is interesting, but certainly not spiritual. Her meeting growing up was composed primarily of sustained period of silence, so she often finds too much vocal ministry extremely jarring and not centering. Whereas, when I came to DC, I deliberately sought out the most vocal meeting I could find, because to me, even though I have embraced Quaker worship, I still cannot reconcile complete silence with a connection to the Almighty.

I suppose the lesson to be learned from this is that God talks to me and talks to us in ways we might not have ever considered before, and the gift is to look for it whenever one can, and not limit oneself to where one might observe it. That's a challenge for me, particularly, that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.


Gail said...

Hi Kevin-

I have long since dis-associated with any organized religious ritual. I too found that it greatly interfered with my 'spirit' and relationship with God.
I like and follow as best I can the teachings of Jesus -I think he is a really amazing man. I also think his love with Mary Magdelan is the greatest love story of all time.

Love Gail

Liberality said...

It is good that you are both Quakers. It's good to agree on spiritual matters.