At our All-Church Retreat, I led a session on religious language. We played a game where folks got a card with a tricky religious word on it and moved around the room to collect definitions. Then each person shared the definitions out loud. I thought you might all like to read what came up for this group of 20 or so participants. So here we go:
Church: A place where people gather. A place where people have similar intentions. Community.
Grace: Permission to not be perfect. Compassion. Forgiveness. Eloquence. Love given and not necessarily deserved. Acceptance.
Evil: Behaving with malicious intent. Doing things unethically. Doing wrong and knowing it. Not caring. Failure to respect creation, others and the Earth.
Prayer: Intentional meditation, mindfulness. Thoughtful reflection. Intentional internal dialogue. Hope. Articulating a vision for good things like peace. Saying my fears to myself. Speaking to myself or voicing problems not to someone else, but to find answers within myself. Wishful thinking.
God: Origin of all things. Supreme being. Inside more than outside of me. Infinite presence. Voice that helps me follow morals. Energy that flows through everything. The force. Connectedness. You are as old as the universe. That sense of connectedness to everything in the world around us. Ultimate cause and first-mover. Not a guy sitting in the clouds with a white beard. Essence of all spirits. All knowing. This is hard because of Christian fundamentalism that was so severe in my background.
Faith: Confidence. Deeply held belief despite contradictions. Trust. Loyalty. Positive belief that gives support. Belief. Trust in the universe and physics. Consistent positive thinking and support. Evidence of things unseen. Belief in something better. What you trust. Belief in the unseen. Belief in something unproven. Loyalty. Trustworthiness. Knowing what we believe and acting on it.
Salvation: Relief from myself. Connection to something larger than me. If external, it’s a problem. Behaving in a good way even when I don’t want to. Help. Wholeness. Forgiveness. Surviving. Feeling positive. Reincarnation. Here and now. How to behave in this lifetime. I don’t have the faintest idea. Rescued. Blessed. Balm. Salve. Decision not to do wrong again. Instead of external, internal.
Soul: Inner being. Self. Essence. Our true selves. That part of our self that seeks transcendence experiences. Truest self. The best of me. Knows right from wrong. Higher self. Part of myself that dances between everything. Interbeing. Rest in peace. Soft and private. Core self. Dancing.
True self: Best self. Authenticity. Core self. Essential self. Living up to values. Sincerity. What we strive for. Actuality.
Worship: Respecting something worthy of respect. Place of connecting to something bigger than self. Practice believing in something greater than you. Being part of something larger. Ascribing worth to something we value. Admire strongly.
Evangelize: Sharing our faith. Spread good word out of joy.Verbalizing beliefs overtly. Comparing what someone else believes to what you believe. What is available to us. Sharing scientific truths.
Sin: Hurting someone. Intentional mistakes. Transgressions. Harm caused to others. Acting contrary to values. Wrongdoing. Regret or wishing I hadn’t done something. Something that causes increased awareness and mobilizes force of change. Something that separates us from self and others.
Redemption: Forgiveness. Transformation. Bettering yourself. Returning to right relations. Life-changing. Experience for the better. Feeling one with the world. Change. A redo. Makes you feel okay. Make up for something you’ve done wrong. Ability to say you’re sorry.
Spiritual: Transcend self. Thoughtful and introspective. Things that take me out of myself and put me in touch with everything. Hidden. Magical. Miraculous. Giving and guiding. Connecting with higher self. Beyond the everyday. Things that make life meaningful. Being deeply moved. Being sincere and not self-centered. Connection to nature. Connection to ourselves. Essence of what we are. Practice of being your highest self. Anything to do with something bigger than ourselves.
I wonder if your experiences of these words is included here? If not, it might be something to ponder!
Much love to each of you,
PS – I still have openings based on last month’s newsletter.