What do I believe? What do I believe in? How do those beliefs inform my values? How do they inform my choices? How do they offer me a sense of direction?

This week in class *, I was invited to consider my personal theology. It was an opportunity, as the facilitator described, to put head thoughts to heart feelings. How exciting! This is exactly the challenge that I embrace in most of my writing endeavors. And here was an opportunity to answer, for myself, those important questions that often pass through my mind but that never settle and for consideration long enough for me to formulate any answers. I tackled the task eagerly but the three-hour class was barely long enough for me to start thinking of these abstractions in concrete terms.

For several decades, I have thought of myself as spiritual but not religious. While components of many world religions resonate with me, I have not felt compelled to embrace any belief system wholeheartedly. While this amorphous distinction has allowed me to claim my spirituality (and name what it is not), I have never tried to articulate it. Its unnamable quality has made it impossible to communicate and sometimes challenging for me to embrace. I am not alone: one- fifth of the US public identifies as spiritual but unaffiliated with a religion. Social scientists have tried to throw an umbrella over this diverse and dispersed group of people, naming and categorizing them as “SBNRs” as though they could be viewed and contained as a singular group. Learning about the SBNRs (and my apparent classification as one) only made my personal spirituality feel more vague and distant. OK, perhaps I am an SBNR but what does that mean, really? What is it that I believe?

After a night to sleep on the questions that were posed in class, and a few hours of contemplation and writing, I was able to articulate my personal theology. Finding the language and borders to define my credo, identifying my own truths for living in this body at this time and place, has been incredibly expanding. By giving name and expression to the little flame of Light inside, I believe I have invited it to expand and radiate ever brighter. I am sharing it here for two reasons. The first reason is that it feels like an opportunity to fan that flame further, to give it oxygen and space for growing even greater. Here it is.

I believe in a Universal Spirit that is expressed in all life, connects all life, and loves all life. I believe that all matter of earth and sky and sea is living manifestation of the Universal Spirit. Dwelling in, around and through us, all life, including all humanity, is both offspring and ancestor to this Universal Spirit.

I seek opportunities to be in community with others, to explore the diverse sources and expressions of our personal experiences as divine beings. In community, I strengthen my understanding of self and Spirit, enjoy safe space for questioning and discernment and feel the presence of divine grace reflected and amplified by others who gather in awareness and oneness.

I connect to the Universal Spirit in moments of silence, in the natural world, in intentional engagement with others. When my body is in motion (working outside, running, walking or stretching) my heart is open and my mind is quiet. In these moments, I feel Spirit within me and around me, an honest, all-knowing and all-loving presence.

My theology is informed by sacred texts from people throughout time who have identified and expressed the work of Spirit within their lives. The words of poets and prophets from many generations and traditions offer insight, inspiration, and solace. The words of those who experience Nature as Spirit resonate particularly deeply.

I believe that, as divine beings, all humans have an infinite capacity for love and compassionate connection.

I believe that all humans are fallible. Any actions that harm self or others are rooted in conditioned and patterned attachments to body, ego, and status, i.e. those aspects of experience that are uniquely human rather than wholly Universal. To the extent that we release ourselves from these attachments, we experience a grace that expands the vibration and expression of Spirit in our lives.

I believe that re-connection with the aspects of ourselves that are all-loving and all-connecting will invite healing for our planet. The work for my lifetime is to know and express the Universal Spirit through my words, actions, and relationships.

The second reason why I share my credo with you here is that, while my personal theology will not matter very much to you, your own credo matters – a lot. Our core beliefs fundamentally influence how we show up in the world. If we have not given ourselves the time and space to give them language and expression we are on auto-pilot. If, on the other hand, we nourish our personal truths and beliefs with intention, practice, and community, we co-create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.** I invite you to create some quiet space in the days ahead to consider some or all of these questions.

What do I believe? What do I believe in? How do those beliefs inform my values? How do they inform my choices? How do they offer me a sense of direction?

If those questions don’t inspire, try the ones that Mary Oliver offers in Some Questions You Might Ask.

*I am a 2nd year student in the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine’s interfaith ministry program.

**I am savoring my first reading of Charles Eisenstein’s book by this name. The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible offers an inspiring and encouraging framework for exploring our personal responsibility and participation in the evolution of human consciousness.

2 Replies to “Credo”

Comments are closed.