Sunday, February 19, 2017

What Do You Seek?

I am a spiritual person. I love metaphysics, the use of runes and cards, and the mystical interpretation of nature, psychic and medium energies, the quest for the divine, the search for truth in all things. I love liturgical Christianity from my Catholic and Episcopalian roots. I love the mysticism of Celtic paganism and in the green magick of Wicca. I love the essence and wonder of spiritual flow in Native American forms of spirituality. I love the study and meditative response to the Kabbalah. I delight in the human energy and connectedness that Humanism teaches.

As one who truly identifies as ‘universal,’ I look for new opportunities in shaping my path. I love the term seeker. I think most of us who try to be chimed in to our spiritual selves are truly seekers. We may each have different definitions for this term based on our uniqueness and personal experiences. We each may be seeking totally different things – God, a sense of belonging, truth, the meaning of life, to be in total harmony above all things. But we are seekers nonetheless.

I think that is what draws me to Unitarian Universalism. UUism provides me with so many tools and resources to help me shape my path. And just as paths have forks in the roads along with twists and turns, I know that my spiritual path is no different. This is apparent as I was once an ordained Catholic priest (which lasted for four years when I resigned at the age of 32…10 years ago). While I do not regret my becoming a priest – because that was part of my journey then – I also do not regret expressing my underdeveloped path at that time.

Now in my forties, I would like to think that I am more developed spiritually than I was at 28 when I was ordained to the priesthood. Something that I am very interested in as a certified spiritual counselor is helping individuals develop his/her unique spiritual path. Maybe that is what I was shooting for by becoming a priest 14 years ago. I have always cared about people – where they are spiritually, what their rationalization is, and helping them find the tools and resources to strengthen this aspect of their lives.

A very dear friend of mine grew up in the Episcopal Church. We sang together in the choir for a short time. As we were growing older, I found myself in the Orthodox Catholic faith (and sneaking over to a Unitarian Universalist fellowship while in seminary) and she found herself embracing paganism. When our paths crossed again (at a Native American drumming of all places) she asked me if it was possible for her to be both pagan and Episcopalian. “Absolutely!” I exclaimed.

Too often, I feel, we become too exact with what and how one must be regarding religion, spirituality, and the like. I don’t care about rules and qualifying identifiers when it comes to this aspect of my life. I am Earth-Centered, enjoy certain elements from my Christian roots, respect my Hebrew ancestry, and yet hold certain Humanist ideas in the midst of all of this. It works for me. I make no excuse. I know that 20 years from now when I am in my sixties there may be more layers to my spirituality. But that is exactly what it is – mine. I can customize it how I see fit.

Despite my serving as a minister years ago, I truly love being part of a lay-led Unitarian Universalist congregation. I love the organic nature of the parish. I love how we work as a group to decide what types of programs we would like to take shape in the life of the congregation. I love how we embrace all forms of spirituality – whether it be a derivative of religious-based spirituality or that of the human spirit. We truly do covenant together to support one another in our individual journeys – no matter where that may lead. 

One of my favorite mystics of our time, the late ThomasMerton (who was a professed Trappist Monk as well as a teacher in Zen Buddhism) said, “We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.”

I believe Merton’s words to be true. I believe that each of us – whether we be Catholic, or Pagan, or Atheist, or Agnostic, or Muslim – are all on a journey to either perfecting what we know or on a journey to figuring it out. The beauty is that we are in the process and we recognize the process. We allow the process to develop over time. It is not something that takes shape immediately – despite epiphanies or specific moments we may encounter along the way that may bring us immediate inspiration. That is what being a seeker is about, in my opinion.

It is this journey where we create sacred spaces for ourselves. It is this process that we see the temples within each of us being built. Joseph Campbell once wrote “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” The beauty of this statement brings an awareness that many of us have felt lost or unsure of particular religious systems or beliefs we once belonged to as a child or young adult or even most of our lives. Your journey, your space, your truth – these are the safe places where you can go to and where you can be free.

As you continue on your journey, despite what may be thrown your way, I invite you to stand in your truth, allow yourself to flow with the current – or even swim against it, and allow your spiritual self to develop according to your understanding. I invite you to study, research, listen to your mind and heart, to not be solely persuaded by others, and pay attention to the beauty in nature and in the human connection. As you continue to grow, as you continue to seek, I invite you to give yourself the permissions that you need to be on this journey – knowing that your journey is unique, personally customizable, and deserves your full attention. There is no specific way to develop your path other than how you plan it out or how you allow it to take shape organically. Let us remember that all that we seek is already planted deep within us. Let us welcome the growth within.