Spiritual not Religious?

Over the last few weeks I have enjoyed sharing in some rich conversations with strangers.

One such conversation was with a person who simply wanted to see the architecture of the Richmond Uniting Church. As he looked at the beautiful stencil work on the walls we chatted. When he discovered that I was the minister he asked “So what do you think the meaning of life is?” Now that is an excellent question.

In our unfolding conversation about both our views of the meaning of life he stated that he wasn’t into religion but that he was more into spirituality.  As we continued to talk and listen to one another we found that we shared many views in common about the unseen mystery of life and the interconnectedness of all things.

This week I met a woman who shared her own thoughts about the meaning of life. She too didn’t identify as a religious person but as spiritual. In our conversation she pointed out the deep need for ‘non-dualist’ thinking and being and we agreed passionately about this. I shared that I think as humans we need – and long for – inner union and re-union, and we both pondered the ways in which the church may and may not offer space for this work of healing.

It is very easy to stay in our ideological camps intentionally or unintentionally, labelling individuals and groups and defining ourselves in opposition to them. However when we reflect more deeply on the language we use and the language we reject we may discover something new.

Language is powerful. Exploring what we mean by words such as ’religious’ or ‘spiritual’ may help us to understand some of our own views and also help us to uncover some of our assumptions. Through such honest reflection we may even discover that some of our assumptions are not well founded.

It is in being open to such self-reflection and in being open to the stranger, that we can experience connection, we can learn and we can be blessed. In our global village in which people often quickly judge and condemn the ‘other’ such openness and honesty are precious gifts. I, for one, am thankful for the gifts I recently received from these strangers.



Rev. Sally Douglas