This I Believe

Terrie - Potomac, Maryland
Entered on December 31, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I Believe

Terrie Barr

I believe we can live a spiritual life every day regardless of our beliefs.

I was a true believer as a child. I stood every Sunday and said what I had been taught to believe. Then, over time, I discovered I didn’t believe it. It was almost ten years after my first doubts that I would share with a sister, in my mid-20’s, that I didn’t believe a major tenet of our religion of origin. It took another 10 years before I began attending a Unitarian Universalist church and was encouraged to articulate what I did believe. It took yet another 10 years to begin exploring spirituality seriously and to embrace everyday spirituality.

The definition of spiritual is “of the spirit or soul; of religion, sacred.” I believe in the natural rather than the supernatural and the definition didn’t help me to discern what spirituality was or how to live it. I learned it was about ways of being rather than doing. But, I am an action-oriented person in an action-addicted culture. The “glory of action” is my comfort zone. Was I ever going to experience the “bliss of growth”, spiritual growth alluded to in the Sanskrit, Salutation to the Dawn?

“Look to this day for it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of our existence, the bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty…..”

I have been in a women’s spirituality group that meets twice monthly for over a decade. The group includes Christians, theists, agnostics and humanists. This has not hindered our discussions and sharing of spiritual practices. We discovered a lot of common ground but I lacked a practice of everyday spirituality.

I co-led several book discussions on the topic of spirituality at my church. In 2000, my co-leader suggested a book I agreed to co-lead before reading it. The book was Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life. Although I struggled with the book, it has helped me more than any other to understand everyday spirituality. I adapted the spiritual alphabet provided by the authors Mary Ann and Frederic Brussat. My alphabet includes: acceptance, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, gratitude, hope, humility, joy, justice, kindness, love, meaning, openness, peace, being present, trustworthiness, unity, accepting the unknown, the unknowable, and wonder. These are universal spiritual values.

Now, I ask every day that I may live my spiritual principles. May I be accepting, may I be compassionate, may I be empathic… My practice is still action-oriented. Rather than meditate on these values, my goal is to act on them; for example, through every interaction with others and working for social justice. I access these values through nature and I reflect on them by writing about their application in my life. I deepen my understanding of spirituality through discussion and reading. It helps me to do this with the support of others.