Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Room for the spirit

I've had several religiously-oriented posts coalescing in my head lately, but I can't seem to translate them into words. Then, today, I read this post from PeaceBang and knew that if she could present such a lovely snapshot into her Unitarian congregation and the holy connection that is common to the religious experience, I could at least try to put some thoughts out there.

The truth is, although I am more comfortable in my religious life than I've ever been, I do feel a strange pull between two poles. One the one hand is my brother, who identifies as a Christian, although I don't really know much about his personal faith. From several comments he's made, it's apparent that he thinks that Unitarians don't believe in anything and aren't truly religious. (We haven't discussed the definition of religion, although there was a recent article in UU World which referenced the twin components of awe and discipline -- I like that and have been letting it settle in my thoughts.) My dad is on the same end of the spectrum. Different religion, more carefully respectful of my choice, but (I think) still not quite getting it as being a true choice, as opposed to an absence of choice. (This completely leaves out DT's Southern Baptist mom, who gamely accompanies us to services when she's in town, closes her eyes at the parts that make her cringe, and secretly teaches WonderGirl to sing "Jesus Loves Me" when she puts her to bed.)

At the same time, DT and I are getting progressively more involved in our congregation. I feel embarrassingly religious. I teach religious education to the K/1 class on Sunday mornings; we rarely miss services; if we were included in a political poll, we would be in the "highly religious, attend church twice a week" category. This is pretty hard for me to accept. I find myself wondering what other people think -- I had lunch yesterday with the mother of one of WonderGirl's classmates, and we talked a little about watching our own kids explore the idea of religion. The mother and her husband identify as atheists and we are very attached to a congregation (see, I can't even write the word "church"!), but I wonder if our ideas are really all that different.

Too religious for some; not religious enough for others. Strangely, peacefully, just right for me. As one of the commenters on PeaceBang's post says, you have to leave room for the spirit, and I think I finally have.


sally said...

I've enjoyed eavestroughing as you think aloud about religion, Ruth.

I too, frequently wonder about how I fit within the 'realm' of religion and within the religious community. In the final analysis, I am comfortable putting aside time each week to explore my own spirituality, to consider the world from a perspective other than my own, to consider a higher power and to share these notions/experiences with others.

Folks who provide and share this opportunity do their children a great service, one that cannot really be measured in importance. What a gift it is to provide an experience for your children (in this instance, organized religion) where they will grow and learn a sense of shared values and community. I have found that the 'rituals' of religion have offered comfort to me in good times and particularly during bad.

Ruth said...

Sally, thank you. Your comment means a lot to me.