As we enter these sacred days of Passover and Holy Week, steeped with symbolic rites and rituals, many of us carry heavy hearts laden with doubts, fear and guilt. The traditional religious teachings have created havoc. In the past they once offered comfort in spiritual expression, but not in our times.
Last year, I wrote an article for the Huffington Post. The piece that I contributed was actually a response to the Dali Lama. Previously, the Dali Lama had posted an article stating that religion has failed the world.
He supported his statement by urging us to look at the state of the world today riddled with violence and separation. The religious leader citing the suffering situations worldwide, summed up stating that religion, which is supposed to bring peace and love, has failed in its primary mission.
In my written response to the Dali Lama entitled, "If Not Religion, Then What," I agreed with his position, and called upon us all to question how we interpret, accept, and live our religions.
My "aha" moment came when the HuffPost published my column, with the posted the key words: "none" and "spiritual none." I smiled naively to myself thinking perhaps they had misspelled the word "nun." Having served as a Catholic nun for 7 years, I write, speak and coach based on being a "nun," so a keyword, "nun" wouldn't be unusual.
To understand these "none" and "spiritual none" terms, I "googled" them and was astonished at my findings. At that time there were over 33 million "nones" and "spiritual nones" in the United States and the movement is growing exponentially every day. These identifying terms grew out of how people described their religious affiliations on the last census.
In the column where we are instructed to check the box of your religion, i.e. Lutheran, Jewish, Catholic, etc., these people chose the last box, "none of the above," not wanting to be associated with the usual religious choices, boxing them in.
Researching further, I found that their core belief of the "nones" and "spiritual nones" is that there is not one religion containing all the truths, but all religions have something of value. A belief far from the thinking of the church in which I grew up.
As the Dali Lama referred, people are not seeing the meaningful, all embracing results of religious practices. Further, Richard Rohr in his book, Falling Upward states that, "Organized religion has not been known for its inclusiveness or for being very comfortable with diversity."
We concur as sojourners, we see vital spiritual pieces within us and surrounding us, leaving us hungry searching to fill the spiritual void. It's not that we have walked away from God or faith, but have opened up their narrow view of spiritual and religious practices to find more meaningful interpretations and expressions.
Now during this beautiful springtime season celebrating Passover and Easter, it is the perfect time to reflect on our spiritual oneness. Remembering that Jesus lived as a Jew, he celebrated the traditional Jewish traditions, including the eating of the prescribed Passover meal.
This symbolic Seder dinner serves as the basis for our Catholic Mass and other Christian rites today. A study into the Jewish religion opens up a new appreciation for our other Christian practices. A "reaching across the party lines," so to speak can widen the lens of understanding, tolerance and acceptance for all religions.
During this sacred Passover/Easter celebratory time, let's remind ourselves that we are called to respect one another in peace and unity. Let's embrace these values of respect, peace and unity beginning within ourselves, radiating out to all.
We only hope that our understanding, prayer, and good will are lived and spread throughout our world.
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