What is Spirituality?

Last night, I was honored to be asked to teach a session at the John E. Hines Center for Spirituality and Prayer in Houston on the Spirituality of Bread. Like pretty much everything else in my life, I’m an amateur when it comes to baking bread. But, I’m a well-practiced amateur having been baking basically a loaf of bread every week for the past fifteen years. Plus, I get paid to talk about spiritual things – what could possibly go wrong.

When and if there is video of my presentation, I’ll be sure to link to it here. Additionally, I’ll be mining the experience for good questions that might make good fodder for the blog. But for the moment I’ll use last nights presentation as a springboard for answering a pretty frequent question – What is Spirituality.

I’ll confess that spirituality has always beena. Little bit of a willful mystery to me. I came of age during the 90’s and 2000’s, when the whole notion of “Spiritual but not Religious,” became a thing. And I rejected it. Not because I didn’t believe that their were ways of affecting a relationship with God outside of the organized church. More because I am always suspicious of movements that define themselves by what they’re not, figuring that, at least for those in my generation that were using at a reason to leave the Church, ‘spirituality’ was exactly identical to ‘not religious.’

This has changed, somewhat over the intervening years, but it has still taken me a long time to discover a working definition of spirituality that works for me. These days, I find the most comfort in a statement by Kees Wajiiman, a contemporary Dutch Carmelite Scholar, who suggests that Spiritulity is, “the process of reformation that aims to recover the original shape of man [sic.], the image of God.”

Deep, right? Very.

That I like about this definition of spirituality is that it doesn’t exclude religion or religious practice as a valid option for developing or hosting one’s sprituality. thus, one can be both religious and spiritual – something I, for one strive to be. I also like it because it focus spirituality on human development and in a certain way leaves religion to be about community formation, which is very close to my experience of the same.

What’s your favorite definition of spirituality? I’d love to read it in the comment section.

One comment

  1. I like the quote by Kees Wajiiman. It is not one I’d seen. My definition of spirituality is a corollary from his – the process of reformation and redemption that aims to shape me into the being God created me to be.


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