The term “spiritual,” like the word “love,” has been used in so many ways that it has almost lost its meaning (think, “I love your new car!”). But most of us have not given up on the word love; I’m not ready to give up on the word “spiritual.” But what does it mean? Some thoughts from a variety of sources/traditions:
Theologian Matthew Fox, in #11 of his 95 Theses says, “Religion is not necessary but spirituality is.” And from #12 of his 95 Theses: “Spirituality is living life at a depth of newness and gratitude, courage and creativity, trust and letting go, compassion and justice.” A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity, Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2006
“…human beings have . . . a need to be valued, to be cared for, to be loved, to be recognized, and to feel that their life has some meaning and purpose and is not just a means to someone else’s needs. We call these spiritual needs.” Michael Lerner, p.16, editorial, “Hostile Takeover: Theocracy in America,” Tikkun Vol. 21 No. 1
“Spirituality is an organic part of daily life, not something dispensed by a professional. True spirituality is liberation, not just from the delusions of reality but from the delusions of religion as well.” Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations, p. 20. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
“I use it with a very basic connotation: the human search for meaning. All of us, all the time, operate out of a sense of being connected to an inner core of meaning.” (p.12) “Spirituality is inherent to being human; religion is only one aspect of our unfolding spirituality.” (p. 13) Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology, New York: Crossword Publishing, 1998
And about raising children:
“To be fully engaged members of the human society, [children] must be religiously literate. An important part of this literacy is the recognition that humans have a ‘spiritual’ dimension, broadly defined – a yearning for meaning and purpose, a connection to the rest of humanity and life on Earth, a sense of existential wonder and mystery.” Roberta Nelson, “Even Secular Parents are Religious Educators,” p. 15, UU World, Fall 2007. The article was adapted from Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, edited by Dale McGowan.
And finally, my simple take on it: “Spirituality is about our human spirit, our experience of that within us and around us which opens us to a larger view and new possibilities: interconnection, love, compassion, forgiveness, and creativity in our lives.” Katharine Houk, The Book of Belonging