What is spirituality? Skeptics claim it is merely an iconic image that inspires, a trinket to be bought and sold in curio, gift or craft shops? They claim it is merely fantasy, an element of wishful thought on the part of those most in need of solutions to insoluble problems. They consider it an opiate for the masses, a dreamworld in which impotent people play at pretending they can understand, or even communiate with God when, in fact they cannot.
Most would say it goes deeper. Most would say it involves an inner path, a sense of the moral or ethical self. Most would claim to see it as a state of mind, or being, or consciousness transcending the mundane, perhaps symbolized by the meditating Buddha or crucified Christ. They would see it as inextricably entwined with an image of a higher power, or at least a sense of same. That higher power may vary by faith, but it is most often seen as an essential ingredient
And does spirituality truly have essential ingredients? If so, what are they? Some might say gratitude; some might say grace; some might include a dose of awe...all in addition to the ever present higher power. Still others would consider themselves "spiritual" only when surrounded by the orderly chaos of nature, others only when proselytizing, and still others only when alone and in ordered silence. What does this mean to those in search of more?
Does it mean only the religious can be considered spiritual? Does it mean those without a god are denied gratitude, grace or awe? Does it mean they have no transcendent moral or ethical sense, no inner path? Does it mean they can't appreciate nature, are to be denied a voice or even ordered silence? Or does it mean no one has the right to define spirituality for anyone but themselves? Spirituality does not preclude critical thought.
I am most at peace in the presence of authenticity. I am most grateful when able to see myself as a part of creation with no special claim to righteousness or regard. I am most in awe of those who live simply and without haste, one day at a time, finding peace in the process of life. They endure, and in doing so exhibit what I've chosen to see as a spirituality in action, a sense of personal proportionality that puts aside assumptions about essential ingredients or higher powers. As a result, they not only endure, they thrive sans the traditional accoutrements of success.
They can just be still not only when surrounded by nature's orderly chaos, but when in the presence of foolish proselytizers, as well. They can speak from the heart without fear of discovery by, or retribution from those less aware than they. They are steadfast in the face of injustice, courageous in the face of evil, compassionate in the face of suffering. They are spiritual in the sense that their actions speak to the human spirit in a voice that comes from, as well as goes to the heart. They move us most deeply because they speak to the interdependence of all, the necessity of service and the awareness that ultimately no one, no one lives alone.