Spiritual Community

About fifteen years ago, I went through my New Age phase.  Wikipedia says that New Age philosophy draws on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and infuses them with influences from self-help and motivational psychology, holistic health, parapsychology, consciousness research and quantum physics.  In other words, it’s sort of a spirituality stew.  One afternoon, I found myself in The Bodhi Tree, a New Age bookstore in Hollywood, California (that has since closed its doors).  Amidst rows of books on Chakras and Shamanism and Wicca, long haired men in saffron shirts and braids stood in small groups, talking of philosophy and spirit.  In my jeans and USC T-Shirt, I felt completely out of place but I longed to feel part of such a spiritual community.

Growing up in my childhood Catholicism, I never felt part of a community.  The church seemed more interested in telling me what to believe than encouraging spiritual dialog between congregants.  In fact, one of the final blows to my life as a Catholic was being told by a priest that I shouldn’t take comparative religion in college.   As an adult, I’ve met quite a few people who seem to be able to belong to Christian congregations without buying into the entire dogma.  They have discussions about what they believe and don’t believe with other congregants, not worrying about what the Pastor thinks.  Maybe if I’d stuck around to be an adult Catholic, I’d have experienced that.  Maybe if I’d been a Methodist.  I spent a major part of my married life tagging along with my wife’s Judaism, and while it has been the closest I’ve come to a religion of my own, I never felt that sense of community I longed for.   Groups we joined were much more interested in social action than in speculating on how God works in the world.

As this posts, I will be finishing up a weekend retreat with my Thursday Night Men’s Group.  The Sunday Morning meeting is always The Spirituality Meeting.  It is my favorite meeting of the year, forty-something guys who can curse with the best of the sailors and kid each other mercilessly, getting down to the business of talking about how they find God in their lives.   There are forty-something paths, men who came in with religion and others who came in agnostic, men who have a clear belief in how God works in the world and others, like me, who don’t have much of a clue.   Someone will probably say something that pisses me off or something that makes me say, Oh, please.   But I’ve also heard things that opened doors along my spiritual path in these meetings … and sometimes, they were very things that upset me.  It is something I have always wanted, this community of men who aren’t embarrassed to talk about what matters.  It makes what was a lonely search a shared experience.

Do you have a spiritual community?

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4 Comments on “Spiritual Community”

  1. […] Spiritual Community (oldereyes.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Tomas Says:

    Currently I do not belong to any spiritual community. That hurts me the most. But I think that this pain was used to the awakening by God. My health state limits my activity greatly, but I can translate from English into my native Lithuanian…
    Thank you for the post that enabled me to choose.

    • oldereyes Says:

      It’s interesting, Tomas. I was commenting at our retreat that we are a strange species in that nothing seems to open us up like pain. I, too, feel that my pain and that of friends was what opened me to God.

  3. irish777 Says:

    My experience with you on that retreat was very spiritual and rewarding. I know how difficult it is to get out of God’s way and let him “Do His thing”, but you did a great job. Thanks

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