The other day I began reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, Eat Pray Love. I know, I know, I’m late to the party, but while I was reading, something jumped out at me—her stance on God.
After feeling trapped in a failing and unhappy marriage, Gilbert finds herself splayed out on her bathroom floor, praying…for the very first time, asking for guidance on what she should do. This was surprising to me. As someone who grew up in the church, it didn’t dawn on me until I got to college that some people didn’t do the same.
Sure I knew that some people attended mass or the mosque, while others kept Kosher, but for whatever reason I felt like everyone (except a select few), worshiped a God.
But reading Gilbert discussing praying for the first time—in her mid-30s (word?)—really struck me.
As I have gotten older, I’ve listened as many people talk about being spiritual as opposed to being religious. Some believe in a “higher power” or “the universe” or mother nature but hesitate to label that being “God,” I suppose because for some, “God” is a loaded word.
While I am still very much a Christian, my view of Christianity, of the Bible, and of other religions that spring from the same place have changed. I no longer feel there are these huge spiritual divides between Jehovah and Jesus, Allah and Elohim. I feel like those us of who believe are all talking about the same God, and only the language is different. But it wasn’t until I read this one little passage in Gilbert’s book that I saw someone else articulate what I have been feeling for some time.
I have always responded with breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abided very close to us indeed—much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts. I responded with gratitude to anyone who has ever voyaged to the center of that heart, and who has then retuned to the world with a report for the rest of us that God is an experience of supreme love.
…When the question is raised, “What kind of God do you believe in?” my answer is easy: “I believe in a magnificent God.”
Like Gilbert, I also believe that God lives—not in these books we subscribe to Him—but in our everyday lives, our breath, our actions, our hearts. And although I call my God Jesus, I respect that you, or someone else, may label yours Allah.
But does this make me spiritual or religious? I guess it just depends.
How about you, Clutchettes and Gents? Do you consider yourself spiritual or religious (or none of the above)? Is there a difference?