I've been thinking a lot today about Inannasstar's comment about scheduling spirituality, which makes me go back to a time when scheduling it was a part of my life. I have always hated getting up early on Sunday mornings to go to church and can't for the life of me figure out why on a day that is supposed to be a day of rest, you don't get to sleep in. Not only do you not get to sleep in, you have to be at the church for about 4 hours being "spiritual" as if that is your weekly allotment. And nothing against UU churches but when Zach and I looked into them, we noticed they do the same thing...early Sunday morning services. And when you have to drive an hour to get there...not likely I'll ever attend.
I grew up in a conservative church which, while not being as fundie as some of the fundamentalists are today (as in...we could go to dances and movies and wear pants) it was still a pretty restrictive church. We were there nearly ever time the doors were open, until my high school years anyway, when school events took precedence over mid-week services. It was a measure of the times how you fit into society by what church you went to. And if you didn't, you might as well not show your face in public.
We had morning devotions over breakfast. My mother (my dad was on the road Monday through Friday) would read a short devotional from The Secret Place along with a Bible verse while we ate. We were supposed to pray over meals and pray before we went to bed at night. I probably did this although I don't remember. Chemo has removed some memories from my brain.
As an adult, I tried my best to have a personal Bible study every day until I started homeschooling Zach and then his Bible lessons took the place of that (I killed two birds with one stone so to speak.) We went to church just about any time the doors were open including any youth activities that were available. We were involved in dramas, choir and any other church related events.
And yet, I don't remember ever feeling spiritual. I had fun, don't get me wrong. I had some really good times...fun times. I just don't remember feeling connected to God on any level beyond getting swept up with emotionalism. It was habit, rote, duty.
So, when Inannasstar mentioned how scheduling spirituality seemed unpleasant, it really jarred me and got me to thinking. Maybe that's what I love the most about Paganism. I don't have to get up at an unreasonable hour to commune with the Gods/desses. They probably love a good sleep in as well. I don't have to have specific times set aside on a daily basis or schedule "meetings" with them. Sure, there are the esbats and sabbats and if you are in a coven or a grove, then there will be scheduled dates for celebrations, but who doesn't love to plan a party? It's not the same as having a specific time when you have to be there, because it's your duty to your God/dess who would be really cheesed if you stood them up.
I love that even though there are times of celebration, especially as a solitary, it's up to me to determine when I should meet with my God/desses. Imbolc? The 1st or 2nd will do. Go by the seasons rather than the dates? Sure, why not.
I will admit I still get a thrill out of not getting up on Sunday mornings and getting dressed up for church. I hope that feeling never goes away because it's such a delicious feeling...liberating, as Zach put it today. There are some Sunday mornings that I still wake up at the same time and gloriously sink deeper into the pillows to enjoy not going to church.
But most of all I love that feeling that there isn't a Deity somewhere up in heaven with a wristwatch and a log book keeping attendance and tardy records. My God/desses live in the grove where time has no meaning beyond the repeating cycle of life.
And yeah...I know most Christians would argue that they aren't scheduling their spirituality, that they are always walking by faith. Maybe so, but it wasn't that way for me and for a great number of people I know who are still Christians.
At any rate, all that being said, I still need to discipline myself to set aside time for me, for my growth, for mental repair and for the refreshing of my spirit. Music, arts, crafting...all these things are very spiritual to me and I should make them more a part of my life. And reading...so much to read and I just don't sit down to do it. I'm loving all the new things that I'm learning about Paganism, Druidry, and other cultures/beliefs. It's exciting. But I just don't do it. I find other things to do instead.
So...that's what I mean when I said I need to set aside time to work on my spirituality...those things will make my spiritual life more balanced. They will help me to flourish. They also make life more enjoyable and exciting and that makes me feel younger and more useful. As a Christian I struggled with those feelings of being at the latter years of my life and not being as useful.
Christianity, in particular, fundamentalist Christianity has become a younger person's religion. Older people (and that's not me yet!) are largely discarded or put out to pasture. I hear my parents complain that the music is all contemporary, that church is all geared toward younger people and young families. I saw that myself in the fundie church we used to belong to. If you didn't belong to that young family demographic, you weren't encouraged and there were few spots for you in various ministries. Oh, maybe the ones the younger people didn't want, like ministries to nursing homes and to the elderly, but all the prime ministries went to the men in their 30s and 40s and maybe their wives.
I love that in Paganism, age and wisdom matter a great deal. I finally feel like I'm not useless, that I have something to offer, that I'm not at the end. In many ways, I feel like I'm at the beginning of my crone years and still have so much ahead of me.
Actually, what's not to love about Paganism?