I recently heard someone describing a piece of music which had moved her. She described it as “quite spiritual” hastily adding “but not necessarily religious”. As someone who, though retired, still dons my dog collar to take services, I imagine that I am assumed to be “religious”. I wonder if people’s follow up thought, then might be, “but not necessarily spiritual”? How sad I would find that!
How sad it is that our natural, human spiritual longings, ponderings, experiences, are felt or found by so many to be completely different from, and at odds with, any kind
of religious adherence or commitment. Church, sadly, for many, is not the place they would think of going to explore their questions about what life is all about, not the place they would expect to express their deepest feelings of joy or sorrow, not the place they would go to sense same the oneness, wholeness, joy that they feel when outside in nature.
Those of us in the church have to take some responsibility for this mismatch, we have to recognise that, though we do our best, not all of our services, all our traditions, make it easy for people to find these things – this peace, this solace, this inner space to question and ponder that they look for and find elsewhere. But our church buildings are places anyone can go, at any time of the day, and be still for a few moments.
Rev’d Helen has put up on at least one church door a simple notice welcoming people to do just that, to come in and perhaps sense and encounter God’s touch in the peace, stillness, beauty of these ancient and sacred spaces.
Of course, God is not confined to church buildings, God is to be found in nature and in the many poignant and meaningful moments of our lives, but perhaps being still
for a moment in your own local church can also be a place to connect with your own, deep inner life and the life of the God who loves you so utterly and entirely. I am sure
that God is not religious, but God is most surely, and vitally, spiritual.