Throughout my life I have often said, arrogantly, that while I am not necessarily a Christian I am “a spiritual person”. I’ve never really devoted much thought to what I meant by “spiritual”; only that the title allowed me to lay an easy claim to piety without having to bother with the pesky accountability that accompanies true faith.
I have flitted back and forth between a number of belief systems in my life- atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, free floating monotheism, universalism and a very loose rendering of protestant Christianity; all ultimately culminating in the spiritual equivalent of jogging in place for the last 25 years. If faith is a metaphorical mountain to be climbed- and I believe it is as wise an analogy as any- I have spent my entire adult life poking around base camp. I have never truly placed my foot upon that daunting route to the summit.
That said, in acknowledging all this time that I am “spiritual” I have, however unconsciously, drawn a line between myself and the atheists and agnostics and inadvertently joined the ranks of those who believe in something outside of themselves.
Of course, I now know I have a spirit. This revelation has not come from any wisdom I have accumulated over the years. I simply know it in the same way that I know I have a stomach when I am hungry. I know because I have felt a consistent sense of emptiness and longing which has permeated and ultimately affected every aspect of my life; even when all else was going so well.
However that same longing, while painful, also offers some sense of peace because the emptiness itself confirms that there should be something more; something spiritually nourishing and fulfilling and real and attainable- something that, while I have played around at faith my entire life, has always been there; simply waiting for me to come and discover it.