This is a little bit about me, Amy, and the spirituality that I bring to spiritual direction and my life.
I am ordained in a small protestant sect in the Christian tradition. My life has been one where service to neighbor, simplicity, and peacemaking were the central focus of worship and my church education. And it was good. The love of God and Jesus were sort of assumed, in order to get to the message of the gospels. A flip to most evangelical experiences where Jesus is exalted above his teachings. I'm glad for my upbringing.
12 years in my first professional position had me in the role of pastor. I teamed with my husband and we split the work of a single pastorate into the two of us, sharing parenting at the same time. A perfect equation of life and vocation for us. 12 beautiful years of growing into my gifts and identity.
For the next 13 years, my family attended a church that had other pastors, because we had moved cities and I had begun work in a seminary. During those 13 years, I was the board chair 3 times, a deacon, worship leader, occasional preacher, sunday school teacher.
When the pastor left, and the congregation proclaimed that they'll carry on without a pastor (the numbers had diminished to about 12...but that is an entirely different story)...the writing on the wall was that I would have my hands full of church function and leadership. The voices saying "we'll do it ourselves" also were saying "But don't ask me for regular leadership because I have other things going on." I needed to leave this beloved gathering because it was not my call to be the de facto pastor.
When the congregation finally reached the painful point of laying the congregation down (closing the doors) in the fall of 2017, I had to do something with my ordination credential or lose it. I moved it to a progressive, open and affirming, creation caring, interfaith engaging congregatoin in Fort Wayne. I preach there twice a year. I attend only when I preach. But it is my church. My faith gathering.
Some folks view my lack of regular attendance at church as a loss. A point of shame or giving in to cultural trends.
But really, the churches I have been a part of have simply done their job well. If the job of the church is to connect people with God/Source/the Sacred.....then I'm a graduate.
Psalm 139 is a cry of frustration by the psalmist who is gearing up to a confession of hating their enemy so much they wanted them dead. We know it as a comforting piece of poetics as it is used in funerals: there is no place we can go where God is not.
But really, there is no place we can go where God is not. To my joy and to my chagrin. Not a single place out there is the cosmos, or the immediacy of my lush backyard, or within the interior sanctum of my soul. God is there.
And this is my church now.
My spirituality is wide and broad and deep...so deep I have no ability to reach the furthest reach. Everyday I explore the nuance of what I thought I knew as a boundary to understand it now as a portal to something more. Everyday I swim in the warm waters, the turbulent waters, the salty tear infused waters of the Sacred. I float, I bob, I sink.
This means that my understanding of spirituality is broader than any lineage or faith heritaage. The Church of the Brethren has done its job so well that I'm in that space beyond its limited boundaries of polity and faith statements...exactly where those things were pointing.
I come back, time to time, to the material world of church and practicality. It is no longer a place for me to stay, but certainly, it is a place for me to dip my toes back here in the waters of the local beach. The four-part singing of hymns that sing of God's love are deep in my marrow. The peace songs sung on grass or around camp fires strum in my blood. The deep care of community in times of trauma, when you put aside all messy human feelings to care for one another is like a breath.
This allows me to be filled with gratitude. I can meet you where you are with whole hearted belief in your path. Becauses there is no place we can go, no place we can be where God is not.
Peace to you.