The Spiritual Journey....What is it?
Lent is the time of year given to us to rededicate ourselves to our faith. We take a season of 40 Days to closely examine the Way of Life that Jesus taught to his disciples, and discover how that journey compels us to live our own lives in new ways.
At the beginning of every worship service, we say, "No matter who you are, no matter where you are on your journey, you are welcome here." This year, for our Lenten practice, we are taking time to seriously consider the question, "Where AM I on my journey?"
Anthropologists have long noted the similarities between religion: ritual, sacred scripture, moral codes. Living in a moment of great interfaith dialogue, many of us take for granted that all the world's major religions are in agreement that the entire point of living a life of faith is to be more loving. Intellectually, academically, we know these things. But for many of us, our relationship between ourselves and our own faith is still...somewhat mysterious. The Christian faith is more than 2,000 years old and it has been used to both condemn and to save. Which parts of this religion do we welcome into our lives? For what purpose? Our particular church, here in Kittery Point, ME, was established more than 300 years ago. Over those centuries, we have been both the place everyone was legally mandated to attend in the 1700's, the place where children and families from all over town could be found in the 1960s and 70's, as well as a place for food, fun, and fellowship. What gifts does this place offer to people in this current time? What spiritual gifts and teachings can we offer, and how do they differ from what someone might learn walking through nature, or attending any other church, or even a yoga class?
Exploring the Spiritual Journey together is our way of answering these questions. God has offered for all of us The Way of Life--a way of walking through the world that leads us to discover 3 Great Loves: Love of the One who made us, love of ourselves, and love of our neighbor--and we are going to work together to describe what that path looks like. What can we expect to encounter on this walk? How do we locate ourselves along the journey? Where are we headed...and how do we support one another along the way?
As we have begun this conversation, we have found that each of us have slightly different ways of envisioning and articulating this journey. And we have also found that there does seem to be a general pattern...there are some common elements of being human that each vision of our journey must come across at some point:
The beginning Creation stage of the journey, when we are like infants in need of spiritual nourishment. We encounter Injustice, which challenges all our previously held assumptions. We venture into Wilderness, times of great freedom and great uncertainty. There are times of Isolation, which bring both precious solitude and dark, dangerous invitation to put our own needs before others. We all venture up to the mountains of Awakening, where we attempt to correct the sins of our past by putting the needs of others before our own. In each of our journeys there comes an Unknown period...a time that is colored by loss and defeat, betrayal and death...a time that feels like the tragic end to our journey.
Our Way of Life takes us all the way through death and darkness to the triumph of Easter Sunday, the experience of Reconciliation with our fellow humans, our God, and all of Creation. In our tradition, we proclaim loudly and clearly that no journey is complete, no story is ended, until we are reconciled in Love and harmony with All That Is.
This is one way of walking the Spiritual Journey...a way that has its own gifts, opportunities, challenges and discoveries. It's a journey you are welcome to come experience for yourself...no matter who you are...no matter where you may be on your journey.