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Religion is nothing but the use of power over those who want simple answers. That is a pretty strong statement, but think about it for a moment. Congregants listen to clergy telling them to believe that an all-knowing, male deity directs everything here on Earth. Many believe, as they’ve been taught, that they are righteous and everyone else is wrong. They make G-d seem small and limited to their way of thinking. It’s why most organized religions fall short of true spirituality. They do what Jesus told us not to do by repeating the same prayers over and over and always believing their particular church’s authority but not necessarily following it.

Spirituality is much more all encompassing than that. G-d or Source is found in everything around us — the life force pervading everything with love and energy. Imagine a glorious, vivid, colorful sunset or the moonlight glistening on a gentle lake. When we experience moments of communion with nature, we feel the awe of touching Source. We often long to prolong that feeling. We yearn to return to Source, our original home.

As humans, we tend to imbue everything with labels of good and bad. What if we were to try to acknowledge G-d in everything and everyone? That would be very hard to do. Is G-d in the criminal or the prostitute? Is G-d in the rocks and plants around us? Is G-d in our enemies and people we don’t like? Yes to all of them. If we can truly find a space of non-judgment, as Christ taught, we can acknowledge the spark of goodness and light in all things. Is it difficult? You bet! And we’ll fall short more times than not, but it is in striving to live as Jesus preached, that makes our path a spiritual one.

For most of us, we feel closer to accepting that G-d is in everything by taking time in nature. It is there that we can find peace and harmony away from the daily grind. We can really breathe, meditate or pray without the rote texts of a church. We can commune with the true spirit of G-d. It makes it much easier when there are no other demands on our time.

I have had two amazing experiences in my life while meditating — moments when I slipped into an all-encompassing golden light where I felt I understood everything, a state of total bliss. Sad to say those moments did not last. I returned to ordinary reality with the frustrating feeling that there was something on the tip of my tongue if I could only remember what it was. I have tried to repeat the experiences many times without success. The closest I am able to get is when I’m out in nature and awed by the beauty of life around me.

Nature allows us to experience that awe. Can you imagine that criminal as a tiny baby with all the future potential unrealized? It is that same sense of awe and wonder that we feel when deeply immersed in nature that we need to bring to all our actions and encounters — to be able to see G-d in everything and everyone. To be able to see that the person opposite us embodies parts of ourselves that we refuse to acknowledge because it is just too frightening to think that “there but for the grace of G-d go I.”

Let’s remember to ask for that grace to allow us to to follow a more spiritual path, to recognize that G-d is not just found in church on a certain day of the week, but in everything and everyone. Seek out those moments in nature when we can truly feel the presence. Meditate on being in nature if you can’t actually be there. Take a few moments to conjure up the image of a desired spot in nature. Look around this spot, in your imagination, and feel that awe and longing. If nothing else, it will allow you to forge on through your most difficult days knowing that the grace of G-d will touch you when you ask.

Ruth Cooper
Ruth Cooper is a retired Canadian counselor who holds a Bachelor of Social Work from King's College, London. She spent the last 10 years of her career working with dementia clients and their families in a mental health hospital. She has also worked in the women's shelter system and private practice. Ruth is a lifetime member of the Spiritualist Church of London, Canada, where she learned a great deal from the Rev. Irene Perkins and other teachers with whom she sat in meditation circles twice weekly. She has been on a spiritual path all her life. She lives full-time in her 5th wheel with husband, Ralph Hooper, dividing her year between Canada in summer and the southern U.S. in winter. Contact her at ruthhacooper@gmail.com.

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