"A Way in the Wilderness"
- Outside the Desert Retreat House -
I was just talking to someone who told me that in this time of political upheaval in America, she finds that she is going to church a lot more. She went on to say that the church is her “safe harbor,” a place where she can get away from all the chaos for at least an hour a week.
My guess is that religion often provides comfort and security especially in troubled times. Many people may turn to religion for answers to the perplexing questions life poses. People often cling tightly to their religious beliefs because religion and spiritual practices provide a safe harbor from the restless waves in the seas of life.
But from my point of view, embracing the wisdom of any spiritual path does just the opposite of fixing problems and providing clear-cut answers to perplexing questions and daunting mysteries. In fact, religion can sometimes be an impediment to dealing with the difficulty of living every day, providing a false sense of security, allowing believers to "bury their heads in the sand" while the troubled world rages on.
A while back I came across this helpful and insightful piece of wisdom written by Rabbi Rami Shapiro:
When it comes to religion
or for that matter, when it comes to embracing any spiritual path,
there is no security, surety or safety.
There is only the wildness of life lived in the shadow of death.
If your religion provides you with the humility
to know that you do not know,
the wisdom to see past what you claim to know,
and the courage to navigate the unknown
with compassion, curiosity, justice and grace,
then it is as true as any religion can and needs to be.
Indeed, on a spiritual journey we navigate the unknown. The deepest wisdom one can gain on any spiritual path is the realization that, when it comes to “God” none of us ever actually knows what we claim to know because “God” is beyond knowledge. “God” is the “Great Mystery,” transcendent, unexplainable, unable to be captured by our glib answers and clear-cut paths that we cling to so tenaciously.
When it comes to religion, there is no safe harbor, no security or surety. All we can ever do is embrace the “Great Mystery” as we make our way through the wonderful and sometimes frightening territory of the wildness of life lived in the shadow of death.
I remember a posting I once saw on Facebook:
A ship is safe in a harbor but that’s not what ships are for
The spiritual path shouldn’t lead us away from a troubled world but rather it should lead us to live boldly in the midst of all the chaos as we help heal a broken world by embracing it with the arms of love.
A spiritual journey doesn’t offer us the false security of a safe harbor; instead, it equips us with a compass to help navigate our way through the wilderness of life as we treat one another with compassion and work to build a more just society.