To call on all

To commit to no one faith, but call on all: what would this look like on day-to-day practical terms?

With no official place of worship to call home, my spiritual practices will be mostly self-guided. I can dedicate time each day to meditation and prayer, even if just a few minutes here and there. I will try to utter words of thanks more often, especially first thing in the morning and before eating. This should be easier to remember when I witness something unique like a rainbow or if I travel someplace new or see something I’ve never seen before.

Annual holidays can provide some structure to my ad-hoc multi-faith endeavors. I can imagine participating—in my own way—in the Jewish high holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. When the days shorten and the weather gets chilly, I’ll know to review the previous year. I’ll conduct an honest accounting of my behavior, my relationships, how I opted to spend my time. I will make amends, challenge myself to do better, and then release the guilt.

As winter trudges forth, I can take some extra time to think about Jesus. I want to remember his example, the care he showed others, the unconditional love he demonstrated. When the days get short, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for me to reflect on his death. Such reflections are likely to put me in a somber frame of mind as they will bring up thoughts of my own mortality, but I can look forward to the hopefulness of Easter. This, combined with the triumph of Passover, should rescue me from despair. In the end, life and freedom prevail.

I don’t believe I’ll ever live through another Ramadan without being transported back to my own experience. As I write today, it is several days into the next year’s Ramadan and even though I am not officially fasting, I can feel the loneliness of my remembered hunger and thirst so acutely it brings tears to my eyes. I can’t help but think of everyone around the world abstaining during daylight hours—so much so that it’s as if I am participating on some level, emotionally if not physically. I feel solidarity with the intent of the fast and with the people for whom going without is not a choice, an affinity that I hope will expand when my multi-faith calendar swings back around to Eid Al-Adha. From now on, when I see this date on my At-A-Glance planner, I’ll think about that day at the Dallas convention center and remember that the world’s most populous belief systems share common roots, bound to one another in our collective imagination.

But for how long can I practice my solo patchwork religion before my devotion begins to ebb and the finer points fade from memory? Maybe I’ll have a good reason to allow my faith to flag, like my schedule gets super busy. With no community, no accountability, I can see that a day may arrive when I fail to take the time. The connections I’ve fostered with my religious endeavors are far-reaching, but they are theoretical. I don’t have to come face-to-face with another living soul to practice my faith. Wouldn’t some actual companionship on this path do me some good, especially as I get older? Some Nones have committed to a place of worship, perhaps even attend regularly, but continue to pledge no allegiance to a particular religion. These Nones appear to have found a balance that doesn’t force loyalties but meets practical needs.

A friend asked recently what I thought my future held, faithfully speaking. I joked that I could continue to make the rounds to various places of worship, A-to-Z, over and over again, circling back so many times that people begin to recognize me, perhaps even welcome me—not as a potential convert, but for the None I choose to be. It’s a daydream that makes me happy. By showing up at the doorsteps of the different houses of worship, hat in hand, I draw the boundaries of my spiritual identity ever larger; it’s not just a single dwelling, but an entire town, a community both more real and bigger than I ever could have hoped. Perhaps some congregations would come to appreciate me as a little tie that helps connect them to a grander network of worshippers. But how realistic is this vision, really? Could it possibly provide the intimate connections and structure I’ll crave, especially as I age? As I tip toe into my golden years, and all the existential issues become more pressing, will my slap-dash independence continue to accommodate me? If not, what then?

17 thoughts on “To call on all

  1. Oh my! Your words make me smile. They are so much like the feelings and words I have heard seemingly thousands of times by people walking into Centers for Spiritual Living who have been on a journey similar to yours. I remember my own first time after having been raised in Catholicism, walking a long path with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, attending Hindu chanting and having Buddhist leanings and loving the Jewish people I knew and worked for.. During that first walk through the door I began to wonder, “Could it be that I have found my home?” Of course I didn’t join anything. I had too many fears and trepidations but after several years of in an out attendance it just seemed the closest thing I could resonate to in the way of social interactions and beliefs. I know you will have your own experience when you decide to peek in. I will always honor you and this wonderful journey you have taken and shared with us. Thank you.

  2. You could probably find a home in any liberal, welcoming congregation of any faith. And having a community is very nice, even if it feels a bit limiting in theological or practical terms. After many years unchurched, I’m attending an Episcopal church again. I am not a particularly credulous participant in the proceedings, but there’s a warm welcome and practical service there for both far-flung peoples and the local community, many of them struggling. I am happy to be part of that. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to enjoying the familiar cultural traditions as well, but at least here they have not become the focus of the congregation’s whole existence.

  3. 🙂 Or you can do what most nones do – live with a moral conscience that requires no religion, and be a good neighbor within whatever “community” that you are in at the moment.

    Being spiritual requires no building, no structured event, no specific group of people. Being spiritual means being human. ((((hugs!))))

  4. The first that that came to my mind when I read your blog was “No man is an island….” I hope you find a place where you can comfortably share and gather sustenance, because no matter what our personal belief/faith/spirituality, we humans are a social group and we find comfort in each other.

    Yours in Christ,

  5. The most basic step of faith in God is realizing life is not centered in you. It is about comprehending the overarching realm of God in both the spiritual and physical. The person of faith believes his/her purpose is to worship God, bring God honor, and enjoy God for one’s whole life. Secondly, the person of faith loves others as themselves, and serve others with their talents and gifts, while receiving the same. This is done in a body of believers, not alone. You nailed the reason. We need accountability and community. It takes a village… but to belong everywhere is to belong nowhere. The definition of belonging does not encompass it.

  6. HI Corinna, Thanks again for sharing your journey. It has proved enjoyable and enlightening as you have gone places I probably never will. And, I hope you continue your journey. There are other less traveled avenues to explore and these might prove worthwhile for you and for writing about as well? Frank, mentioned one. The Center for Spiritual Living. We have one close by to me, here in Santa Rosa and it is well attended and welcoming in there services. I can also think of the Unitarians as another similar group. Then what about the Rosicrucian’s and some of the meditation groups like Ananda? I also would like to mention my church, ECKANKAR, The Religion of the Light and Sound of God. There is an ECKANKAR center in Seattle and they have monthly worship services. You might find some interesting insights and tools to add to your spiritual perspective as well. In any event, look forward to continue hearing more about your journey and it’s ever widening arc. Peace and blessings to you.

  7. hi corinna,

    i’ve popped in and out of your blog reading about your spiritual journey occasionally. i think it is wonderful that you have learned so much about and experienced various faiths. as you come to the end of your current exploration have you considered asking God to show you which is the best spiritual path for you? i think that is what i’d keep doing and wait for a very clear answer. congrats on the forthcoming book.

    grace + peace to you

    • Hi Linda, Thank you for being here and for that advice. I have found myself at times asking something similar…it is usually something like “what should I do with my life?” or “how can I be of best service?” I’ll just throw that kind of question up in the air. No dramatic responses back, but an occasional little knowing of what step to take next.

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