I’ve just said good-bye to a group that has been meeting alternately in my home for over 15 years. This last meeting was poignant and sad for it signified that the changes I have set in motion are not in the future or unreal: it is now and it is final.
A Course in Miracles is Christian and so for me to be involved was a kind of disconnect and a little silly. I don’t know anything about Christianity, nor religion per se, and have always felt that religion was not related to my life. However, these particular women have always made me feel welcome, loved and respected.
They are mostly Catholic women (including one who is about to be ordained a woman priest*) who have loved their religion, albeit with some exceptions including an inordinate amount of guilt; ignoring women who have played significant roles in the religion; etc., and are very connected to the ‘Holy Spirit’. I am learning to know what it means to be spiritual through this avenue and find it very elusive. But because I am in a group with these beautiful and wonderful women, I feel the importance of sangha.
The Course emphasizes forgiveness and love. This I can get behind. The love part has helped me begin to see the beauty and worth in everyone thus making it easier to forgive. Forgiveness is tough – but when I have been able to achieve this – I really feel relieved and experience a new lightness with a touch of peace and patience. Right now we are reading Richard Rohr’s * Immortal Diamond. This reading has allowed me to understand deeper the incorrect thinking that has been characteristic of religion and in particular, Christianity. It seems, in one of his major themes, that the ‘church’ has left the personal connection to the divine up to and only with Priests and other hierarchy. Rohr writes:
Science is no longer our enemy; instead quantum physics, biology, and other academic disciplines are revealing science as probably our new and best partner, much better than philosophy ever was. If something is spiritually true, it will also be true in the physical world too, and all religions will somehow be looking at that “one truth” from different angles, goals, assumptions, and vocabulary, as will all of the disciplines of any great university. If we are really convinced that we have the Great Big Truth, then we should also be able to trust that others will see it from their different angles – or it is not a great big truth.
In my tradition (I have been training at Spirit Rock* in their Dedicated Practioners Program) the sangha is one of the three jewels: the Buddha, the dharma (teachings) and the sangha, or community. So, from this perspective, it almost doesn’t matter what our orientation is, just as long as we find within ourselves wise effort and the rest of the Noble Eight-fold* path points.
All this is to say I have gotten so much from my ‘religious’ friends and have felt so held in love and will miss them terribly. I hope to attend a conference where Rohr will be presenting in New Mexico, where I will see some of these great women once again.
*Richard Rohr’s site:
*Spirit Rock Meditation Center:
*The Noble Eight-fold Path:
* Catholic Women Priests