Chat With the Chaplain
LETTER TO THE GARDENS:
Spirituality Vs. Religion
Do you share the opinion held by those who think and believe that the two concepts, “spirituality” and “religion” are, or should be, opposed to one another? I am very certain, from my discussions over the years with people of all ages, that there are a lot of folks who agree with this concept. Many claim that they are spiritual, but see no need to attend a church, synagogue or mosque, etc. When asking why people do not go to a faith community on at least a weekly basis one response that I have often heard is, “I don’t need to go to church! It’s filled with hypocrites.”
And my response to this: “Maybe so, but there’s always room for one more!” That answer, of course, rarely receives a favorable response.
I think that we can all agree that religion is only one aspect of spirituality; that one can be “spiritual” without being connected to a particular religion or that one may claim allegiance to a specific faith-persuasion but lack any of those qualities that might identify said religion. Spirituality can manifest itself in many forms, for instance, hiking the Appalachian Trail (don’t wait for me!) or watching a sunrise or sunset (I do this, every August, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina). Others may choose any number of avenues to express their personal manner of spirituality such as, writing some lines of poetry, composing or singing a melodic song, or reflecting on any portion of God’s lovely creation. Some people find spirituality in activities such as planting flowers, walking pets, crocheting, building a tree house or watching a movie or a stage play; still others in reading a book, teaching children or grandchildren about our delicate ecosystem and the importance of showing reverence for the earth – preserving nature for our children’s children, down to the millionth generation.
How, you may ask, might religion help in this effort? How can spirituality be of value? Together, might they not address the chaos in which the earth now finds itself mired? To enter seriously into this discussion, I would propose a Part II to this article and to prepare for such, I now ask, “Where do you see yourself standing?”
The Rev. Leo E. McIlrath, Chaplain