Sunday, January 1, 2012

Finding Your Spiritual Identity in 2012 - Donald O'Dell

I read the following recently in a novel: 

          “[Dil, an Eastern Indian]’…Glastonbury is the Nutter capital of Briton. It’s where the New Age Celts get together.’
          ‘I thought Wales and Scotland were the Celtic bits?’ said Jeanene, puzzled.
          ‘Oh, yes. [said Dil] This is something different. According to my mate Digger, Celticness is a state of mind. I bet no one’d say that in Glasgow. I mean, he said I could be Celtic if I liked, and I’m not even white.’
          ‘What Dil means is that the New Agers are making it up as they go along,’ supplied Hattie, ‘so don’t expect it to make too much sense. What’s going on here is basically a lot of Anglo-Saxon English people trying to get themselves some kind of spiritual identity, only they don’t want any of the nasty stuff which goes with it. Half the time I think they’re trying to reinvent folk Catholicism without the Church, and anyway, they don’t seem to realise there’s downsides to being a Celt. Like being screwed by the English, for starters.’”
          London Bridges by Jane Stevenson, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001, p. 268.

My wife and I heard much the very same thing during our tour of Greece this past Spring (2011). Our guide was a wonderful Greek woman married to an American jazz muscian and piano repairer. She spends about half of each year with him in New Orleans. She took an inordinate amount of time explaining the history, culture and mythology of the Greek gods as we toured the southern part of Greece and several islands.

She made several very crucial points. First,  the culture and nature of Greece – and Greeks! – is very entwined with the history, language, and events embedded in the mythology of the Greek gods. This cultural identity and sense of belongingness goes back at least 2,500 years. Second, there is currently an extreme resurgence or rebirth by today’s Greek youth in the history/mythology of the Greek Pantheon. She believes it is an attempt by this generation to rediscover an overall sense of identity, since (acording to her) all Greece’s major political, economic, cultural, and religious sysems have virtually collapsed or are percieved as totally broken.

Now that 2012 is upon us, I can really identify with the collapse of political, economic, cultural, and religious systems. As a former Presbyterian minister, I can no longer truly identify with the organized mainstream Christan faith and dogma. Churches have so engulfed themselves in our fearful, short-sighted political and economic systems that I’ve heard from church-goers that it is being declared from pulpits that one cannot be a true, believing Christian and belong to the Democratic Party. Other ministers have quoted more and more often from the Old Testament to justify indiscriminate civilian bombing of Islamic countries. However, generally mainstream Protestant congregations or denominations, who are repulsed by statements like this, remain essentially silent. I believe both positions are motivated by fear – I'm acknowledging this is my perception, my reality, my Now.

These (mostly) biblically literal congregations are motivated by the fear of Islam in all its dreamt-up horror. It’s as if they are trying to appease an angry, vindictive God – the God of their perception. The latter, more mainstream, churches are afraid their condemnation of such extreme positions might anger some of their more conservative congregants. Both positions are about as far from Jesus’ Gospel of Transformation as I can imagine – again, my perception, my reality, my Now.

Searching for a spiritual identity – looking for that “something deep inside” that helps me define myself and feel a sense of belongingness within this universe – has been the overarching “fuel” that has powered my spiritual journey. It’s what’s gotten me truly excited. It’s what’s kept me awake at night. It’s what’s driving me as I write these weekly messages. And, when I have this indescribable inward knowing that I’m on my right path, I enjoy a serenity and acceptance that is beyond both words and worth.

Like many of you, perhaps, I have been all over the spiritual map for the last 20+ years – from off-the-wall to over-the-hill. I have travelled from the spirituality I experienced in working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to an attempt to reconnect with traditional Christian dogma to Science of Mind to Eastern philosophy to A Course in Miracles. Along the way I have dabbled with Saint Germain and Telos, Edgar Cayce, Sai Baba, Maitreya and the Spiritual Hierarchy, India’s Oneness Movement, and the British spiritualist organization called White Eagle.

I have met saints, gurus, and charletons. Still, sometimes I meet all three as they look back at me from a mirror. Nevertheless, I stay on my journey. I stay growing. I try to stay still, allowing my light to shine while leaving the results to Spirit.

With all the divisiveness, hate, fear, timidity, and uncertainty enveloping churches, religion, and religiosity it is no wonder that younger generations are on a spiritual path searching for a sense of spiritual identity. My journey on my spiritual path – that is what is making me me. Perhaps it’s making you you.

Some of you will face 2012 searching for your spirituality, knowing that ogranized religion, as it currently exists, will not take you there. You, too, will join the Journey. You will find yourselves on your path – with all its peaks and valleys, highs and lows, cool mountain streams and dry, parched deserts.

Welcome to the road less traveled!

I want to close out the old year and open 2012 with the conclusion from the Introduction to A Course in Miracles (ACIM).
“This course can therefore by summed up very simply in this way:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.”
ACIM, Text, Introduction, 2:1-4
Thanks for listening and, as always, it's okay to forward or share this, if you choose.

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