OK, since it’s Wednesday, some Stray Thoughts. I think a good starting point for these reflections here is to distinguish between Spirituality and Sentimentality. Confusing Sentimentality with Spirituality is dangerous, it can be a kind of self deception. I wrote a poem about 20 years ago that I think illustrates the issue:
. . .and the question came as they walked down the street:
“What is faith?”
The disciple said:
“My faith is like a warm, fuzzy bear,
that I always keep close beside me.
I cuddle it alone at night
when I feel afraid, or
when I need to sleep.
The thought of my warm fuzzy bear
keeps me from being afraid
when life isn’t so good,
and my shy smile baffles
those around me.
On Sunday my brothers and I
bring all our bears to the dinner table,
dressed in the best finery,
and we look at the love of our bears.
My warm, fuzzy bear teaches me
Ten rules to live by,
and I try to follow every letter,
but I always know that my bear loves me
no matter what, and I
can always say I’m sorry
if I make a mistake
(though I try to be careful).
I love my warm, fuzzy bearbear,
and I don’t want Him to be
any other way
than the way He is.”
The disciples walked on to their Passover meal,
and Jesus smiled at Judas’ words knowing
that the great Creator’s plan would be accomplished.
Copyright © 2012 Keith R. Branson All rights reserved
Sentimentality looks inward, makes us feel good about ourselves, focuses our attention on the past as pattern for the future. Spirituality looks outward, makes us aware of other’s feelings, focuses our attention on how the future needs to be different from the past. Sentimentality can be about a diet of comfort food, Spirituality is about a healthy, well balanced diet. Sentimentality is about snuggling at home under a warm blanket, Spirituality is about having good winter wear to work outside.
There’s nothing wrong with Sentimentality, we all get Sentimental from time to time, and I’m no different. There are times we need to do something for ourselves to feel good, to keep up our spirits and enjoy life a little. Hopefully, this is something relatively harmless that doesn’t involve a payback later on. We all need a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night, or to listen to songs from our Youth. The problem is, hot cocoa isn’t enough to live on, even if you’re a Chocoholic, and sooner or later we have to put down the iPod.
Spirituality is about centering our lives on the Divine within ourselves and beyond ourselves. God is inside all of us, and part of our journey of self-discovery is to recognize that presence and respond to it. God is also all around us, particularly in other people, and recognition and response to God outside us is also essential. If we shut this down, this recognition of the Divine within and without, we wall ourselves off from our true selves and others and our lives are incomplete. We also fool ourselves about what life and faith is all about.
Spirituality is an important, essential part of a life lived well. Life isn’t just about making ourselves feel good all the time. We have to pay attention to what’s best for us beyond creature comforts, for our sakes and the sakes of others. We should all work on our spiritual side, me included.