Often when we engage in spiritual or religious conversations, some varient of the word “Devotion” is part of it. We art devoted to our path, devotees of our diety, and we measure our success by the amount of devotion we commit to our cause. When I met my first spiritual teacher, we talked about the life long commitment I would be undertaking. I don’t spend every minute of every day contemplating my relationship with the Source, but I do spend time everday, even spare time, not just, “ok, I have to spend a half hour meditating”, but throughout the day, because it is what I am most interested in, I come back to it over and over again.
What I am proposing is rather than creating a difficult regimen to stick to, instead think about just how important your devotion is to you. I like things to not be too structured so that my life can happen organically and I can still make time for what’s important to me. I was lucky that at some point on my journey, I heard a priest being interviewed for the radio, NPR’s “On Being” which is a fascinating look at how various people approach the divine. In anycase, the priest said that he liked to think of God as someone to have over for dinner, in an informal setting. His point was that rather than make every interaction with God formal, you make time for God in your everyday life, wearing your everyday clothes. Yes, there’s time for formal ritual, but I’m a believer that every moment of every day is worship, whether we mean for it to be or not, so how we act when we’re not “at church” is more important than the show we attend once a week.
Much of my work is devoted to the spiritual, but not all of it is specifically focused on that. I figure what I devote to God because I want to will have a better quality than doing it because I feel obligated to do it. There are many ways to devote yourself to God: all the way from simple prayer to becoming a monk or priest. How we treat each other is of primary importance.
I’m trying to keep this vague because whatever path you’re on, I want that to work for you. My understanding of the Deity evolves over time, which I think is healthy because if you have a perfect idea of the deity to start with, and no further understanding is needed then your education on this plane is complete, and you would no longer be confined to it. It may be useful as we go along for me to be specific about my beliefs, which I will do for the sake of getting from point A to point B. If the details of my beliefs don’t mesh exactly with yours, feel free to substitute your specifics for mine, if you find that to be helpful. It can be useful to bring us closer to our Higher Power to have details fill in blank areas that aren’t really turning points in spiritual advancement. For instance; I was raised Catholic, and Catholics believe that Mary was a Virgin when she conceived Jesus. This story helps some people realize the divine nature of Jesus, but to me, my faith in the divinity of Jesus doesn’t hinge on this detail. In some ways this is a story that brings the culture of the ancient world to us so we can enjoy being part of something ancient. On the other hand, it seems to say that even sex between to holy reverent people is somehow bad and Mary conceived Jesus without sex. (The idea that sex was involved, just not w/Joseph, since he was technically not Jesus’ father smacks of a kind of Zuesian tale, which it may in fact have been. My point is all this is a distraction from the teachings of Jesus, which are the focus of the religion.) I know it opens a can of worms to bring up this particular story, but that’s kind of the point. It’s a huge distraction from what important about Christianity. Just one point further on this argument: one often hears that God does this to show that all things are possible through God. Well, then why isn’t it possible for God to do it the conventional way? Of course, God is trying to make a point by doing it uncovnetionally, but I don’t think the point is that all things are possible, it’s that Jesus is more divine that human conception can yield (but if all things were possible to God, human conception could yield a divinity like Jesus; it’s that God is making a point, not that God is constrained.