Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Language of Spirit

Several readers have observed that I refer to many faith sources. People who identify as Christian might be uncomfortable with spiritual lessons from the Tao Te Ching. People who identify as having no faith might be turned off by discussions on prayer. Some criticize Obama, saying that he has alienated those on the left and the right and in the middle by following what appear to be inconsistent political ideologies. Sometimes we want to know where someone fits. We want a label. We especially want someone to have the same label we do.

The cool thing about faith, I think, is that it is beyond labels. This is just my opinion, of course, but I don’t think the divine essence, for obvious lack of better words, is so easily described, explained, or contained. I went to a Unity church for awhile that included a segment in worship called Lights from Other Lamps during which non-Christian texts were read. It’s like speaking different languages. We can say the same thing in English, Arabic, and Chinese, but in each language, the nuance might be different because of different cultures, vocabulary, and syntax. As long as we need words to communicate, communication will be limited by those words.

For myself, my spiritual life is enriched and deepened by embracing truth as I find it wherever I find it. When asked one time to identify three people who influenced my faith, I named three people who, I believe, were true people of God. One was the minister of my church. One was a Buddhist monk I met in Thailand. The third was the Muslim guard who watched over my home in West Africa.

My faith community is Christian, but I have spent time in a Zen monastery. I have trained as a Stephen Minister and also as a Shambhala warrior.

I pray to God, Kuan Yin, St. Jude, the creek by my cabin (which sometimes talks back), and occasionally my dog Sam who died years ago. When my mother died, I prayed Jewish prayers of mourning. In Hinduism, as I understand it, there is one supreme god, but he manifests in many forms. Although there are lots of names and images for different manifestations, ultimately they are all the same god. Likewise, I believe that my prayers all go to the same destination no matter how they are addressed.

My point is not to shock or alienate anyone, and I’m sorry if I have. My point is that I hope we don’t let language hold us back when we try to communicate about our deepest selves. If we speak our truth to one another and if we hold the words we hear with sacred respect, then we will surely meet in our happy place. Namaste.


  1. Hi Galen--Just saw your commentat my blog, Lisa Allender Writes, and was checking in with you.
    Is this the post you were referring to?
    I LOVE that you reference (and honor!) all Faiths.
    It's so important.
    Peace & Blessings to You,
    Lisa Nanette Allender
    P.S. If you haven't Friended me yet on Facebook, please feel free to do so! :)

  2. Lisa--Yes, this is the one I was referring to. So glad you stopped in to visit!

  3. Galen-- I don't think one should ever shy away from speaking any language of faith. And you're absolutely right- Faith is "beyond labels." I appreciate your bluntness:0 (if that's even a word)! Thanks for an awesome blog!!!!

  4. Thank you so much for your comment!


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