Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Divine stirrings

Last night we had our monthly Monday Gathering. It is attended by a small number of people - last night there were six of us. We have a theme and then the leader has music and words on that theme. Last night our Danny led us in 'that small voice within'. It was a great opportunity to consider whether we believe in such things which we may call divine guidance and eventually may lead us onto discussions about our conceptions of God/gods/the divine/ the non-material world. We had a discussion and one left and then another two. Three of us stayed behind and discussed further our own understandings and our own beliefs.

Sometimes it is such a relief to be talking about things of the spirit. Not everyone believes in a spiritual world in Unitarian communities and sometimes it is not a place that we dare to go to very often. Whilst it is great to spend time with people discussing how to behave, about social action or about inter-faith dialogue, sometimes, just sometimes I want to talk about spirituality. I want to experience the divine. The previous Monday Gathering had been just we three - all of us had concerns about our children - so we sat and focused on healing for ourselves and our children - it was powerful stuff.

It is this experience of something unknowable but very real, of connection and faith, which moves me and is what I came to church for. I use this term quite deliberately - church as a place to experience spirituality within community. I suspect that it is not possible to connect so profoundly in a larger group in particular as there are people who do not experience anything which may be called the divine. So we dilute our spiritual experience during the Sunday service - we need to ensure that all our comfortable. But we need to ensure that there are other opportunities to share more deeply with those whose understanding resonates with ours. 

It is this dichotomy - those who believe in the a divinity/a spirit world and those who don't - which impacts on my experience of religion and not the tensions between theologies which to me seem minor when we actually talk with each other about what we mean when we use the word God, or we talk of Jesus or Mary or the Buddha or whoever. Actually sharing a belief in the divine seems to me like a real bond. Although I think that it is probably when we talk that we fall out rather than when we take time to experience things together.

Long may my local community contain people who are moved by experiences of the divine. Long may it contain those who don't. And long may we continue to explore these things amicably together and amicably apart.