Spiritual experiences generally fell under the realm of connection with the natural world, sometimes resulting in supernatural feelings of meaning and belonging. Paddling out in the ocean, feeling the salt seep into my pores, gentle waves rhythmically lapping my sturdy foam board, gulls calling. feeling small in an immense blue sea. With every stroke, I released a worry, fear, or insecurity feeling more at one with my world. Being at the top of Heavenly Mountain, gazing at a turquoise lake, feeling the weight of powdery snow in every crevice of my clothes, laughing at the sign marking the invisible divide between California and Nevada. Man, once again, attempting to create absurd borders in an infinite geographic landscape. Long road trips with best friends or strangers. Sharing so much of myself with another person I felt I was scraping at the surface of the core of myself.
Religious experiences were about obligation and gratitude. My best sense of being Catholic after 12 years of Catholic education was to serve others and attend mass to show thanks for all of God's works and sacrifices. Don't ask me what that means, I have no idea. My religious understanding in the the few years following high school was condensed into "the least you can do is go to church on Sunday." The few years after the few years after college, it was more like, "my mom and the nuns tried so hard to make me a good catholic, the least I can do it go to mass on Christmas and Easter." Good old fashioned Catholic guilt, mixed with a healthy dose of perceived hypocrisy and dishonesty in the church was not a recipe for a nourished, loving Catholic.
So what is the recipe for a nourished, loving Catholic? I'm not sure. But, I've decided to start thinking about what going to church should feel like, cause obligation and guilt aren't working for me.
How I've connected spirituality and religion
(Specifically what I think going to church should feel like, since I've been going regularly to The Abundant Table Sunday services)
- Think more about religion as living with love, consciousness, and nonviolence, hey, like Jesus.
- Stop compartmentalizing things-religion, spirituality, family, friends, work, play. Live with love and consciousness and watch how it melts boundaries and connects you to others.
- While you are living in love and melting your boundaries, make a conscious effort to connect with other people who are living in the same way.
- Once you have connected with these people see if you find yourself regularly supported and nourished with the words and actions of this group.
- Realize the church is a community that supports and nourishes each other.
- Realize your church IS the community where you nourish and are nourished, support and are supported.
- Keep going.