Learning to Fly - a Spiritual Home

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I have long sought a spiritual home. By home I mean both the impersonal aspects of spirituality - a set of understandings of the world along with the rituals and practices that go along with those, and the social aspects - the community, the particular local individuals with whom I would share this home and without which the understandings, practices and rituals would make far less if any sense.

"There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle." --Albert Einstein

I grew up in many ways living the first way that Einstein refers to, and by default often still operate as if there is nothing special going on, as if we human beings and everyone and everything else here are just atoms bouncing around in ways that happen to produce some interesting results. This seems to me to go very much hand in hand with the lack of basic trust with which I often approach the world. I don't mean the kind of trust that is about assessing a particular person or situation to see if I am willing to engage with them, the trust that is about whether I think things will work out well with this particular person or in this particular situation. What I mean is a more basic trust, a trust that lets me know that I will be okay whether or not things work out well. The kind of trust that, while it fully acknowledges that the floor sometimes will fall out from under me, knows that I will somehow find a new floor, or learn how to fly, or that if (when?!) in fact things do get bad enough that it is truly and actually the end of me, it will still be okay. This basic trust is in part about being okay with dying.

But the scarier part of this kind of trust is about being okay with living, with facing the consequences of things gone "wrong." This basic trust tells me that I am not only okay, but that I actually belong here, that I am a welcome and wanted part of the universe, here to enjoy life and play my part in making it as wonderful as possible for myself and for others. I have experienced this kind of trust many times in my life, but do not yet live in it nearly as much as I would like to, as much as I know is possible. Pretty much the definition of a good spiritual home is that it would support me in getting to that basic trust more often, and staying in it longer when I do.


For the past 10 years or so I have been saying that I am Jewish by birth, Atheist by upbringing, Agnostic by reason, Christian by culture, Hindu by marriage, Buddhist by practice, and Credulist by experience. Going back even further, when I was about 20 and had my first real experience of community and opening up to people on more the rare occasion, I started talking about conversation as my church. Not just any conversation, but the kind in which we are fully open and honest, especially about anything we might feel ashamed of. And in which anyone hearing these things expresses their continued love, despite whatever has been done or said or thought. This love is often best expressed - for me - not in big words or actions, but simply in remaining fully present, and open, accepting that I have done whatever I have done and neither running away from it nor trying to fix it. Nothing that would imply there is anything wrong with me, and ideally even some support to help me see the humanity behind my actions. Even if I do wish now to do something different, I am left to myself to figure that out (unless I actually ask for help with it). Conversation that expresses trust in me, which supports me in trusting myself and the rest of the world.

I first found this kind of presence on a regular basis in the community I spoke of, and then starting in my thirties among people sharing and practicing Nonviolent Communication. If there were a critical mass of people into Nonviolent Communication near where I live that would serve as a spiritual home, which is why I have been putting some time and energy into nurturing the local network of people who practice it and share it. And for many years I have on and off reached - in my own ad hoc, idiosyncratic way - for the kind of spiritual home I'm looking for in the housing co-operative where I live.

Of course there are many well-established potential spiritual homes in town, including the local Quaker Friends meeting, a church of religious science with a minister whose sermons I enjoy, and a locally-developed self-development process. I reach out to each of these occasionally, but nothing has really clicked as yet.

The witch camp I recently attended raised my awareness of all of this, including of course the question about whether witches themselves might work as a spiritual home. Unfortunately there aren't a whole lot of people in this tradition who live around here. At least as importantly, the theory and practices aren't (yet at least) as good a fit for me as with Nonviolent Communication. But I very much appreciate witch camp bringing the whole inquiry so strongly to my attention, and in particular the roles of music and ritual in any spiritual home.

Do I sound like I'm being picky? I am. I have experienced a good fit and that is what I want. I believe that it can in time emerge in places where it is not instantly accessible, which is why I keep working on possible spiritual homes that aren't a good fit right away. But a big part of my pickiness is simply about what will work. Creating, finding, or even maintaining a spiritual home takes energy. Having a good spiritual home releases energy. So there's a dance between persisting in places where it's fuzzy but might emerge, and continuing to look for new opportunities where things might flow more immediately.

Still seeking...

#   on: September 12, 2013       tagged: 
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