Saturday, July 22, 2006

Spiritual But Not Religious: The Bridge Between Faith and Doubt


The second week at Chautauqua, I enrolled in a class with the title "Spiritual But Not Religious: The Bridge Between Faith and Doubt." I thought it might come close to accurately describing where I spend a great deal of my time, my seminary education notwithstanding.
. . . .
The class met for an hour and a quarter for five days, beginning at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on a day where the high was 102. We met in an underventilated and unairconditioned building, sitting in those strange kinds of chairs with the big writing arms like we had in high school.
. . . .
The first day the teacher brought a chime and a chime striker. From time to time he would strike the chime and we would all listen to the sound until we couldn't hear it any longer. He passed around a shell filled with water and asked us to touch the water, to feel the softness. Then he circulated a rock and asked us to feel the hardness. To experience the hardness, the softness. Hmmmm. Many of the participants said they were taking the class either because they were fed up with organized religion or they didn't want someone else telling them what to believe. He read us some poems. We heard the chime again.
. . . .
The second day it was not quite as hot. We stood up and reached toward Whatever You Conceive, as the teacher struggled to avoid using the word "God." We closed our eyes and visualized scenes. We attempted to return to a place where we had felt safe. He passed around a bent twig. We watched a segment from "The Shawshank Redemption." We intoned "Ommmmm." We heard another poem or two.
. . . .
The third day the weather was better. The monarch butterflies started passing through the campus on their way to Somewhere. I stopped going to class. Decided that -- like it or not -- I happen to be more Religious than Spiritual. And I think I like it better that way.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Okay, I'm relieved. That class didn't sound like Nancy, and I wondered how long you could do that. =) All that sensory spiritualization is important, too, but I think it needs to be a part of the celebration of God's wonders, that kind of thing.