We are physical beings born into a material world.
The feeling of physical hunger is God’s gift. It is a built-in warning that it is time for us to eat, to refuel.
When we first experience hunger, we don’t like it. We don’t understand its meaning and we don’t know what to do about it.
It is a leading cause of crying in babies. They don’t know any words, but their little beings cry out, “Is there anyone out there who cares and who will help me?”
That cry is also the basis of our spiritual hunger because we are also spiritual beings.
Spiritual hunger, too, is God’s gift given so that we will seek him out and try to establish a relationship. But it is more complex, harder to recognize than physical hunger.
is there anyone out there?
Our ancient ancestors mistook the forces of nature for gods, gave them names, devised ceremonies they thought would flatter, manipulate and control them, and win their assistance in the struggles of life.
Over time, especially in the last couple of centuries, we have discovered that these forces are totally impersonal dynamics of nature completely unaware of our existence. The process of this discovery has been called a battle between science and religion. Both science and religion are still with us.
We are learning that both science and religion address different human needs. As a result many good people now describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” Perhaps you feel that way. If you do, you are far from being alone.
Do you hope that there is someone out there who cares about you (the most basic spiritual impulse)? Do you hope that after death you will be reunited with those whom you love?
Do you feel sorry for those less fortunate than yourself? Do you wish for less conflict and more harmony in the world?
Have you ever wondered what your pleasure or well-being may be costing someone else (the most basic of moral questions, one never pondered by lions, rattlesnakes and other predators)?
If so, you are spiritually alive and spiritually hungry. You need spiritual food. Even if you consider yourself non-religious, try religion.
There are a great number of Christian denominations, many varieties of Judaism and Islam, Buddhism and others.
One thing to remember is that God is far beyond all human comprehension. You will never find a religion that will answer all your questions. But it will help you to become a more kind and helpful person; to company with other kind and helpful people.
Spirituality is an individual matter. Your spiritual condition is the sum total of your long-term attitudes and values.
Religions is corporate. It involves a group of people who come together because of their shared values.
So if you are a spiritual individual, seek out a religion. It will probably lead you to become part of a group whose basic values you share.
In my opinion, a “true” religion, regardless of its name, is one that will support you in becoming a more compassionate and hopeful person.
Avoid spiritual malnutrition. Find yourself a religion.
The Rev. David Cavanagh is the associate past at Grace Episcopal Church in Fairfield. He can be reached at 425-4481.