Spiritual But Not Religious

In a survey taken by the Pugh Research Center some years ago, a significant number of people self-identified as “Spiritual but not religious.” By this they meant they felt they had some spirituality in their lives, perhaps even spiritual practice, but they did not identify with any one religious body or set of beliefs. 

Of course, the typical UU response to this is, “They are UUs at heart!” One of our seven UU principles is “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.” We will happily assert that you can be a UU Buddhist or Christian or Jew or Muslim or Religious Naturalist or Pagan or Humanist or Atheist, or maybe several of the above at the same time. 

However you may define “spiritual growth,” it is important to living a positive, resilient life. We don’t have control over everything that is bringing stress into our lives, but we can develop the capacity for staying grounded, and bouncing back after grief, pain and worry – resilience. 

Spirituality is a necessary component of resilience. That is Brenee Brown’s conclusion, after years of research and analyzing thousands of interviews. She says, “Feelings of hopelessness, fear, blame, pain, discomfort, vulnerability, and disconnection sabotage resilience. The only experience that seems broad and fierce enough to combat a list like that is the belief that we’re all in this together and that something greater than us has the capacity to bring love and compassion into our lives.” 

And this was true no matter the person’s interpretation of spirituality. “We all have to define spirituality in a way that inspires us,” Brown says. “Practicing spirituality is what brings healing and creates resilience.” 

How do you define spirituality in your own life? What practices help you retain a sense of connectedness to yourself, to other people, and to the vast interconnected web of existence which is our home? What helps you reconnect with love and compassion in your life?

In Gratitude,

Rev. Lynda Sutherland