Today I facilitated a little session with colleagues at work on 'spirituality and helping work'. As part of the conversation I shared with them five points about spirituality in general that occurred to me as I prepared the session (by no means an exhaustive list). It struck me that our meaning making about this concept of spirituality is coloured by a number of things including our personal experience and preferences as well as traditions and communities that we link to. Spirituality is such a broad term and challenging to make sense of given we enter into territory that is a bit hidden from view, often beyond words.
So here goes (you'll note my reflections contain both contemporary and traditional elements):
A. Spirituality is not easily articulated by human language. However certain words can help point to what we might be referring to: love, compassion, wisdom, connection, interior, silence, life, death, ultimate reality, solitude, community, sacrament, justice, present moment, journeying, land, earth, faith, hope, peace, mindfulness, stillness, presence.
C. Spirituality usually privileges experience over everything else. Some writers contrast spirituality and religion. Religion is usually envisioned by these writers as hierarchical, structured, institutional, patriarchal and often oppressive of spirituality. While there is some truth to this all religious expressions have at their core an initial life experience(s) that has inspired their development.
D. There can be two important generalisable movements or experiences in spirituality: i) one takes us outwards beyond the confines of our selves, culture, nation, world and ii) the other takes us inward to our inner experience as human beings e.g. the daily interior life. Spirituality can be said to have universal & transcendent as well as personal & immanent qualities. These movements can occur simultaneously or separately but they are often interwoven together; for some people even becoming an indistinguishable experience.
How do you make sense of this intriguing term spirituality?