Frequently during the course of my day as a Spiritual Care Provider in a busy community hospital, I have the privilege of explaining the word “spiritual”. It doesn’t get a lot easier with practice. Depending on the apparent interest of the listener, I might refer to “the big human stuff” or “deepest longings”. I might throw in a “meaning and purpose”, and nearly everybody gets to hear, “it’s not just about religion!”
It’s not just about religion, that’s true. But it’s also true that religious practices arose from deep existential needs that humans have been trying to meet, in one way or another, for millenia. Spiritual needs- the need for serenity, or resilience, or connection, and on and on- are sparkling facets of human diversity. We don’t all walk the same paths- even within the same religion! Some are born to contemplate, while others are drawn to work for justice. Our paths are as diverse as our needs.
This is a blog about our spiritual needs, and the myriad ways that humans have found to meet them. Looking at a holiday or a practice, we can ask “what purpose does it serve?”. Listening to the needs that underlie what people do is a way to forge bonds of connection, and to make peace with each other.