Monday, June 3, 2013

Hunger for the Supernatural

There are many in society together who name themselves as "Spiritual But Not Religious".  Most of those who wear this moniker claim that they do seek the Other, the Holy, the Spiritual in many ways but that they do not need or desire organized religion for themselves.  Some persons who fit into this category have been wounded by organized religious groups.  Churches have inflicted wounds on some by some of its members or leaders being judgmental or unaccepting or intolerant.  Some churches have used their official rules or views toward social issues to cause pain for individuals to the point that they would rather stay away from anything that smacks of religion rather than encounter emotional pain once again.

I come from a family of origin that had a wide variety of attitudes toward organized religion.  My father never attended church.  He saw no need of it and spent his Sundays working in the yard, grilling meat for lunch, or watching sports on television.  My sister attended church until she was a young adult and then stopped because more than one pastor stepped on her toes when it came to their views on social issues.  She was very liberal in her views and lived in a very conservative area and never could find a church that she could align her ideas with so she stopped attending church until she passed away at the age of 45.  My mother took all of us kids to a non-denominational fundamentalist church of a Pentecostal style through all our growing up experience and she is still very much part of that church even at the age of 87.  My brother followed in her footsteps and became a pastor of church much like the one that we grew up in and he spread the gospel fervor until he died at the age of 64.  Then there was me.....

I was the lost child, the lost sheep, the one who could never find satisfaction with religion through all my years, both as a child, as a teenager, and as a young adult.  I often thought about throwing in the towel and staying home on Sundays as many of my friends and co-workers did but something kept me going and searching until I found my place in the world of religion.  I did not start out being a pastor but worked as a teacher and school counselor for many years before deciding that a call kept working on me to become a pastor.  At the age of 37 I went to seminary and retrained and have been working in churches and with persons in ministry for the past 22 years.

I did not return to the church of my youth to find my place, however.  I went in a completely opposite direction, first finding a home in a moderate mainline denomination and then finally going all the way to a church that is 180 degrees away from the church of my youth, and now I feel completely at home.  I belong to a denomination that proudly welcomes everyone of all kinds and has views on social issues that are as far to the left as is acceptable in Christian circles.  We truly do welcome all who are on their journey and try to act in love despite what others may have experienced in other churches.

Some who say they have no need for organized religion still have a yearning for a connection to the supernatural.  Some belong to groups that are quasi-spiritual, practicing yoga or meditation, reading spiritual or meditative materials, visiting monasteries or retreat centers.  Some breathe in the fresh air of nature and proclaim that as their sanctuary.  I can understand all this because I have done many of these things also.  I have been on the journey all my life and have searched the vast domain of religion.  I was never totally satisfied until I found the place where I belong.  That place speaks to me and assures me that I am where I need to be.

So, if you feel that yearning to connect with your Higher Power, with the Other, with the Holy, even if you cannot name it or put your finger on what it should be for your life, don't stop your quest or put limits on where you may find satisfaction.  It just may be that you have never connected with the right source and that when you find it, you will know that you have.

"When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)

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