you’ve got to leave what you once loved
to return again
and what you return to
may be what you left
or somewhat what you left
we never know, do we,
until we’ve returned
The presentation today was inspired by reading and reviewing a book on the search for spiritual belonging, a being with others of like heart and vision. The book is Enuma Okoro, Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert’s Search for Spiritual Community. While I could not identify with Okoro often in details of her conservative religious worldview, I could identity with her longing for spiritual connection with others. In review of the book, I wrote…
While Okoro writes from a conservative Christian worldview, her book invites us, regardless of our spiritual orientation, or lack of, to be honest about our need for spiritual connection with others, as well as how we my resist such a belonging. She calls us to be honest about our need to belong, for our nature is to belong, to find who we most truly are among others on a like path.
That describes much of my adult life, that is, a need, felt deeply, to belong to a spiritual community and a resistance to it, after losing faith in it. To me, spiritual community became equated with a place of wounding, not healing. Yet, can we transcend the ideals we may have had about such community and go past our loss of faith in it, to a healthier relationship with belonging around some sense and way of the Sacred? I think so, I hope so. That seems so in my life, for while leaving all spiritual community for years, I could not detach from the need to belong, and I give and receive something in such a communion that nourishes me and touches the deepest part of who I am, we are.
* * *
So, recently, after having begun attending weekly meetings of a Quaker Meeting. I awakened on a Sunday morning in pain, and had had a painful night. I had been hurting many weeks from a back and rotator cuff injury. The pain medication I was on seemed not to touch the pain. I got out of bed, made coffee, and started getting prepared to go the Meeting, in Brunswick, ME. And I gave up. The pain was too much. What surprised me, however, is the sadness I felt by not being able to go, not because I needed to go or should go, but I wanted to go. This was something I had not felt in many years, until recently. Even over many years of being a pastor, I had come to see that being able to serve in the role was likely the only thing keeping me going to worship on Sundays. I mean, I was a pastor, and I really did not like the church thing much at all, but I much enjoyed the edification and joy of serving others through the gifts given me to serve.