Courtney reaches out to a trusted friend about spirituality.
Subject: Spiritually Being
Do you have any book recommendations on spirituality? Not God books, per se, but I would read those, too. Between your dance church attendance, your yoga practice, and your recent life goal to face your fears this year (badass woman, you), not to mention your affinity to let books help you work through questions, I feel like you might have some great suggestions.
Like I mentioned when we talked, I have felt a particular need to focus on my values lately, and in doing that, ask more of life’s existential questions. Which has something to do with the confluence of an upcoming birthday (ok in three months, but still thinking about it), tragic school shootings (the shooting last week in Florida was heart-wrenching) and reports of gun violence, big personal and professional goals for the year, and a constant reminder that life is so fleeting when I hold S in my arms and realize that she has surpassed the squishy infant phase and is now a solid baby in what seems like a split second. So as I look for ways to explore my physical and psychological and relational and intellectual self, I think my spiritual self also deserves some love.
Also, raising children necessitates some level of spiritual literacy, I think, especially when their extended families are respectively Catholic and Muslim. As Mimi and S learn their “Dear Universe” prayer before our family meal, they’ll one day have questions about how that fits into the greater constellation of options, and why we do or don’t have certain practices. [This prayer is one to the universe to express gratitude for our meal, which ends in “Namaste.”]
I have spent the last decade not focusing on or questioning my spiritual self. After four years of Catholic high school and a year of going to church in college, I began mapping my core beliefs about justice and equality against religion and found discrepancies too large to put aside.
Since then, I have found spirituality in passing: in my visceral reactions to the gorgeous cadence of words on a page, an urban sunrise, my child’s most innocent request (Mamma hold me?), violin music that fills your whole body. In the contours of life’s small moments, or in the expansive power of a vast landscape (as viewed from the classic perch on top of a mountain or the window seat of cross continental flight), I have experienced the sense that there is a force much greater than myself at play.
I have so much respect for people who can name that force and who can bring their faith into their everyday lives. While I recognize that religion can uplift, it also oppresses in ways I cannot be a part of. I know lots of progressive people with deep religious faiths who somehow reconcile this. I have lots more learning and thinking to do about it, but suffice it to say, I’m not shopping for a religion right now.
For now, I want to be more deliberate about developing some practices that could give me a greater sense of how I connect to the world spiritually. Let’s talk about your approach to this when we see each other.