Spiritual But Not Religious
By the Rev. George Anne Boyle
In the wake of the New Age, and the ever-growing love affair our culture has with all things spiritual, a new mantra has emerged: I’m spiritual, not religious! It is the mantra of ex-Catholics and once-in-awhile Protestants and others on the spiritual path. This emerging mantra has grown up in response to religion that looks more like a museum, religion that says you practice THIS way or you aren’t one of us, religion that isn’t relevant to the life I lead, religion that tells us to believe 12 impossible things before breakfast and leaves no place open for questions or doubt.
And there’s this longing and maybe even a presence of energy in life. Perhaps if you are on the spiritual journey, you have felt this. Energy that gives life and joy — whether it’s looking at Mt. Rainier at sunrise, or playing music with others, or sitting with someone in a time of sorrow. That energy is what the Christian people call the presence of the Holy Spirit. The followers of this Jesus know this longing and energy only too well.
What is this longing? It is the longing to live in community with others from all walks of life — a community that is present in sadness and joy, a group of people searching and questioning and doubting and finding more questions about that presence together.
It's not about having answers as much as it is about engaging a story. It is about your story and how your story connects to an ancient story of desert wanderers that, in time, came to see that humanity and this energy they called God mingled and existed through Christ and thus, exists in all of humanity.
Is it possible to practice and grow your spirituality within an organized church? Yes! The Episcopal Church holds many possibilities open for those on the spiritual path looking for a diverse community of believers.
The beauty of the Episcopal tradition is that it is open to questions and new possibilities, as well as ancient teachings. Imagine a spiritual practice that is both grounded in tradition and open to new possibilities.
The Rev. George Anne Boyle is Vicar at Saint Benedict Episcopal Church in Lacey, Washington.