At first glance it may seem that Dave and I are too different to belong together. We ourselves have often been amused by the differences that seem to make us unlikely mates.
Prominent among these is not only our religious backgrounds but additionally, our different levels of religious involvement.
This is the surface understanding of our lives.
On a deeper level, I have always found Dave to be thoughtful about spiritual issues but with no sense that there is any attractive outlet for his spiritual urges. As he talks to me about his Catholic upbringing and about organized religion in general, he is telling the story of a promise unfulfilled and a mode of spirituality that (for him) seemed anything but. This has left him with an overall skepticism about faith and religious groupthink that I think some former devotees may find familiar.
I have tried to be both a model and an encouragement for a different type of spirituality, one that does not force us to abandon our authentic selves and live a life of suppression and subjugation, but one of transcendant joy and discovery that makes us even more vividly ourselves than ever. When we abandon or truncate our selves in supposed service of the Divine, we are really servicing the needs of the institution. These needs may actually be counter to the wishes of the immanent God who is with us always. The lie we are told is that the needs of God are aligned with those of the organization, which does "God's work." Such a God is no one I can relate to, and I think this is at the heart of David's disconnect with organized religion. Why go through all of that to connect with a "God" that you don't even relate to?
Yet it is scary to take on the responsibility for your own spiritual life. It's far easier to cling to some authority who will make it all right in the end. To admit that there may not be anyone who has all the answers--or who you can prove has all the answers--leads you back to that scary time in your childhood when you first discovered that your own parents didn't really know everything. You feel like the void is looming before you. It is far easier to turn your back on it and walk away from this "religion" thing.
We are drawn back by our natural yearning for Someone we deeply sense is waiting for us. This time we trust that this Someone will speak to us without an intermediary if we can only still our fears long enough to listen.
Daily we show up to listen and ask and listen again.
Doing this takes nothing and no one but ourselves. Sharing our path with others serves to encourage us to listen on a regular basis for that Divine voice. Ultimately, though, we are the ones who must listen and connect, and no one can do that for us.
I think what religions are good for is as a resevoir of knowledge about methods of connecting with Spirit that have been useful to others down through the ages. We have many different things we can try and rationales for why they work. While we may add to that database of spiritual theory, it is great to have many traditions to draw upon and gain inspiration from.
A universal method would be comforting and help us feel secure. Pretending that we know it serves only to separate us from each others and ourselves, and still the connection to that Voice we yearn to hear. As individuals, I think it is unreasonable to assume that what works for us will work for our neighbor down the street, our co-worker, or people from a different culture on the other side of our planet.
So I hope that David will find the way that works for him and the courage to try again and again until he does, at his own pace and in his own time.
I know too much about spiritual disappointment to rush him. He will come to it in his own time and in his own way.
(note: this entry was transferred from my private blog on my forum)