I'm nearing the end of my time in England. Just four more days I return home. As I begin to reflect on my time here, including my many hours spent reading through three hundred year old letters in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, I'm recognizing the need for rootedness. Not foundations, but roots. Organic not building materials. While I understand the attractiveness, of being "spiritual but not religious," I'm not sure it is sustainable. While I understand the attractiveness of starting new communities, I also see the value of long established communities.
Coming here to England has allowed me to connect with my inner Anglicanism. I attended services at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford on three occasions. On Sunday the 22nd, I will attend services at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The cathedral in Oxford is much smaller than St. Paul's. I don't know how these two experiences will contrast with each other until I actually go to St. Paul's. But I found this very traditional Cathedral Worship, complete with organ and choir, extremely powerful. Although different in scale to the Episcopal church of my earliest years, I found a linkage.
As I move forward on this pilgrimage that is my sabbatical, I am being guided by a theme -- Reclaiming a Founding Vision. After being here in Oxford, I'm beginning to rethink this just a bit -- moving toward rootedness. Although I'm attracted to my Anglican roots, I don't believe that there is just one place to look for roots. But I do think they need to be authentic. They can be eclectic, but I don't think they should be cafeteria style. It's not so much as creating our own spirituality, but getting in touch with those traditions that inform our life journey. Mine has some diversity -- Anglican/Episcopal, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Disciple (with a bit of Covenant, Presbyterian, and Baptist mixed in).
Going back to the beginning of my post -- the question of whether one can be spiritual but not religious. I suppose it depends what you define as being religious. If you mean by this -- institutionalism, I agree that it doesn't contribute to one's experience of the holy. But if you mean by this -- being in control of your own spirituality, then I'm not sure that this is workable. When we control spirituality, we are tempted to manipulate it. By connecting to authentic roots, we put ourselves in line with the whole company of saints -- those who have gone down this path before.
I'll have more to say in the coming weeks. But I want to start the conversation about roots. What are your roots. How does your spiritual life relate to it?