It was my pleasure to be at a weekend women’s retreat this past weekend, to go away to a mountainside campground, share a cabin with amazing women and experience the presence of Love. Episcopal women really do have some great times, and I think it’s made even better by the depth of conversation. We’re really not all that much into small talk.
The term “legalistic” has come into my consciousness these past couple of months, particularly in contrast to “spiritual.” Why is this so? What do I have to learn from this distinction?
According to Merriam-Webster, one who is legalistic is one who adheres to moral legalism, “strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.” Whereas, one who is spiritual is one who is “relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit.” When I looked up the definition of “spirit,” I could not in good faith attribute any of them to my interpretation of Spirit.
When I think of someone who is religious, perhaps it is because their seeming focus tends to be more heavily on the legalistic side of the see-saw. I believe, however, that a “strict conformity” to anything has a tendency to build a box, to close some in and to keep others out. I know few who are truly legalistic. Most on this side are religious, “manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity . . . or devoted to religious beliefs or observances.” This person probably knows creeds and
scripture by heart, can recite what they believe at a moment’s notice,
without hesitation. Ah, how I admire that knowledge, that assuredness.
When I think of someone who is spiritual, I think of my experience with them, how freely the energy, the Spirit, flows between them and me. Their very life seems to be caught up in Spirit, ever-present in all they do. But there can be haze; it is ever-changing. As with Merriam-Webster, the person experiencing Spirit has a hard time describing what exactly It is but knows without a doubt what the response is to it, whether it be laughter or tears, joy or uncertainty. Indeed, it compels us forward in all we do.
Of course, I tend to find myself more spiritually inclined. My see-saw has plunked to the ground on the spiritual side and sits there, perhaps at times stuck in the mud. Would it be ideal to get a good balance going, to hover in the air as the scales are balanced, enjoying it as if laughing with a friend, knowing that there’s really nothing to do on the stuck see-saw except someone get off, hopefully gently? Is it better to go back and forth, appreciating the other’s strength and weight, watching closely to technique lest you miss something that might enrich your own experience?
As with everything, we have to be aware. We have to be open to each other. We have to learn and grow. At our core, we are all spiritual beings. Sometimes we need beliefs to help explain ourselves, but all the time, we need to live with and through the Spirit, the Love.
Skip the small talk.
(photo by *Claudine from everystockphoto.com)