Sunday, November 27, 2016

Are You Ready for CHRISTmas?

Most of us who celebrate Christmas have asked (or been asked) the question: “Are you ready for Christmas?” What it usually implies is whether or not we are caught up on our Christmas shopping, or whether or not we have our Christmas tree and house decorations on display yet. The answer, however, really depends on the individual’s perspective of the season and the family traditions that they may follow.

In our home, Derick and I are creatures of habit. Each year we pull out the same old strings of multi-colored lights. And each year, it never fails, there’s bound to be one or two (sometimes more) burnt out bulbs on any given string. Derick is convinced that they add character to the illumination and reminds me that life isn’t perfect. From an analogy perspective, I tend to agree. Because these multi-colored lights that are randomly hanging in their imperfect splendor remind me of our wonderful Nation, Canada; a nation with a broad ancestral pool, diverse in many different cultures, and, for the most part, functioning as one race; the human race. We are not a perfect nation, per say. But we do tend to embrace each other’s differences and are known as a Nation that radiates kindness toward one another.  

These multi-colored lights that connect each other to a power source also remind me of a hopeful future, a reminder that as different as we are, we are all created equal under God. And if we work together, we can connect one another to the power source of His love. 

If you are fortunate enough to represent one of the brightly lit bulbs this year, feel blessed. And remember to be the light that illuminates the burnt out bulb beside you. Perhaps for them this year, they are mourning the loss of a loved one. Or perhaps it’s their first Christmas of being all alone. Or perhaps they have lost their job and are now struggling to get by. Whatever the reason, be open to reaching out. Let your light shine. In doing so, you will capture the beauty of the CHRISTmas light, the One who can illuminate us all.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Spiritual but not Religious

Why is there so much controversy over the cliché “spiritual but not religious?”

There are wonderful people I admire and respect who aren’t affiliated with a church. It’s not that they don’t believe in God. They simply don’t want to be identified with the term “religious.” Unfortunately, it has left a bad taste in their mouth. Therefore, they have rejected traditional organized religion. They see themselves as being spiritual but not religious.

I understand this cliché “spiritual but not religious.” I’ve walked this road, and it does hold some merit.  

A few years ago, I was at a crossroad. Organized religion had imprisoned me. I felt boxed in: the dos and don’ts, the who’s in and who’s out, what we were against rather than what we were for, it all lead to exclusion. The line in the sand where Jesus was portraying the need for unity had become one of division between “us” and “them,” especially toward the LGBT community. These distractions left me questioning my faith. So, I left the church.

I didn’t, however, leave my faith. I, instead, found spirituality. In others words, I went inward. I returned to the person God created me to be. I went on a mission to discover who I was as a child of the light, not what others thought I should be.

Through this mission of enlightenment, I’ve returned to church, with both spirituality and religion interwoven in my faith. Both have helped me unlock my truest self, to think outside the box unobstructed by the constraints some leaders of organized religion can impose on us.

But, I would have to say, it’s my spirituality that keeps me grounded, that allows me to look at our humanity with an open mind and an open heart.

Because, at the end of the day, we are all flawed human beings, searching for guidance that, in my opinion, can ultimately be found by awakening the divine Spirit, which is planted within all of us.

Be who you were created to be. Seek the Devine within. When you do, you will look beyond the bonds of human limitations and find the beauty of Grace, a place where spirituality and religion are united.