I was asking a client about her weekend recently and she mentioned feeling a bit guilty because she was visiting a friend and went for a hike Sunday morning instead of going to church. As a Catholic I can relate to this, but as someone who thinks about health and wellness both as a profession and passion, my reaction was a bit different…
“How was your hike?”
“It was amazing. Such a great morning with such beautiful scenery and we just hiked around and had a great time.”
“Do you think that maybe you going for a hike was more ‘church’ than sitting in a pew?”
It made we wonder about spirituality a bit. I’m a big proponent of reconnecting to oneself, the world we live in and a higher purpose/power. For many people going to church is a spiritual experience that guides or helps them achieve reconnection or bridge the gap toward it. For others, going to church is a chore, an obligation, a habit or something else far from spiritual and far from connected.
Religion is a touchy subject and I’m not trying to challenge its value or place in people’s lives. What I want people to consider, without passing judgement, feeling guilt or discounting anything, is this possibility: What so many of us supposedly go to church for we could and do find elsewhere.
If there’s any place you can connect with your spirituality, God or meaning in this world, it’s out in the world itself. When are you closer to God than walking under his sun, breathing his air, along his trails and beside his creatures? Does sitting in a pew, among a congregation and listening to preacher the only way to go to church? Or is church all around us? And why should we feel any guilt for this? If anything, this is a good thing. I don’t want to live in a world where the only time I think about spirituality, meaning, purpose and connection is when I go sit in a building and listen to the word of the day. One where I need to attend church to be spiritual. I want to live in a world that embraces the beauty all around us each and every day and encourages people to find churches everywhere. A world that realizes we each find our church in our own places and own ways. One in which if I find that going on a hike is more “church” for me than the church I’m supposed to go to- it’s ok because I’m finding my way to connect to this world and God. I’ve always thought I don’t need to go to church to be religious. Religion can be, and should be, all around us.
Does church as we typically practice it have value? Of course, I’m not debating that. What I’m simply wondering is why we should feel guilty, less spiritual or less devout if we experience church in other places and ways that give us the same or better spiritual experience?
Thanks for reading, have a great day!