Tending to your spirit in a secular world

Wow. A month? It’s been a month?

Allow me to explain.

I traveled for most of the summer, as I mentioned on here a few times. I visited friends and family, volunteered, went to weddings… the usual summer fare.

I returned to the East Bay in August, but the last month has brought massive change to my life – including a new apartment and a new job. So things have been hectic. Not to mention, I’m still living without internet, which makes blogging particularly difficult. But I’m back and I’m doing my best. Don’t give up on me!

So for those of you who are still coming back to read: thanks for your loyalty.

Living without religion

One of the things that happened in the last month is that I swore an oath to commit a year of service to my country, and I started a 10-month Americorps position. For those unfamiliar with Americorps, its is a kind of domestic Peacecorps; volunteers receive a small living stipend in return for working a public service job. I’ll write more on that experience later, but for today I wanted to share about the jarring experience of leaving seminary and moving to public service.

I’ve lived in Berkeley for 2.5 years, most of that time spent as a theology student in seminary. I talked about, read about, and wrote about religion all day long. My friends did the same. While we didn’t always feel particularly “spiritual” about the whole thing, we definitely invested our time and energy on the topics of God and scripture.

Sometimes it felt stale. But it felt familiar.

Now I spend my days in public elementary schools, mediating conflicts between second graders and navigating school politics. We don’t talk about God, or the Bible, or the church.

And it feels strange. Like something is missing. Like there’s a part of me that’s been left behind.

Some days it’s hard to believe that this is the same city in which I’ve lived for the past few years. I’m suddenly part of this whole new conversation, a secular conversation.

A Need for Worship

Having all the religion suddenly drained from my life context has been a challenge for the state of my spirit. I miss being able to casually bring up my faith life in conversation. I miss being among people who understand that Sundays are saved for church. I miss dinner conversations about denominationalism or difficult scripture passages.

So by the time Wednesday night rolls around, I am desperate for some quiet time in a sanctuary [I’ve written before about the Wednesday night candlelight service I attend.] How did I ever make it to the weekends before without mid-week church? My spirit needs those moments of quiet breathing, the chance to kneel at an altar and bask in the presence of God, the touch of a friend passing the peace.

Without the space of connection through worship, I find myself going spiritually dry.

But when I get the chance to be still before God, I find myself spiritually renewed, the peace that transcends understanding truly guarding my heart. I am learning that worship is important on a whole new level in my post-seminary life, and that religion will have to take a new shape in my personal and professional life.

What renews your spirit? How, when, and where do you worship? Is the divide between the secular and spiritual part of your life jarring, or are they smoothly integrated for you?

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Filed under My Faith Journey, Theology and Faith

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