“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” -Walt Whitman
A couple of weeks ago, as I sat on my bed studying languages, I suddenly felt this pressing urge to pray Isha.
I haven’t been a Muslim in a very long time, and haven’t made salat in years. As a matter of fact, I don’t even remember how to pray Isha, and I didn’t act on the urge to recite it at that time. But the urge pressed me so much that I could no longer concentrate on my language studies – or anything else – and I ended up going to bed early. The following morning, I checked the salat times for my area and was surprised to discover that my urge to pray Isha the night before had come at the exact time that Isha was being prayed by thousands of Muslims in my time-zone. I have similar stories.
Sometimes, I wake up early and feel the need to listen to Sikh chants. Other times, I am desperate to attend a mass or divine liturgy. Sometimes I feel like I need to set up an altar and meditate, or like I need to practice a physio/spiritual discipline like yoga, tai-chi, or the qigong of Falun Dafa. Then again, I often get the need to be outside and just revere nature or practice the corporate, un-programmed worship of the Quakers. And of course, I have those moments where I just want to head off to one of those Friday night worship services like ‘The Burn’ at my local non-denominational church.
I think I am multi-faith.
I am multi-faith, but I am still fiercely committed to Christ. I don’t think that people in my Christian circles understand this. Conversely, I am fiercely committed to Christ, but I am still multi-faith. I don’t think that people in my “all-roads-lead-to-Rome” circles understand this. I don’t neatly fit into any one category.
The up-side of this is the ability to appreciate and understand all walks of life, the ability to empathize with others and learn from their beliefs and experiences. I love that I have learned how to let doubt build my faith instead of destroy it. I love that I am not afraid to face hard questions and seeming contradictions about the nature of God, faith, and our world. I love that I can admit that I might be wrong about everything I believe, and still not feel threatened for believing it. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. And although I can never claim to fully understand God, I love that I am able to view and experience Him with a depth of perspective that comes with my eclecticism.
The down-side of this is that there is no spiritual community. And I think that’s something that everyone needs. I feel like my beliefs cause tension and sometimes stir up division – which I don’t want. I hate feeling as though I am going to stir the pot with some of the questions I ask. I also hate it when I feel like people are brushing me off as “seeking,” or “lost,” or “trying to start trouble,” simply because they don’t have the answers for what I’m asking, or because they don’t want to share honestly with me for fear that I’ll argue with them. I don’t mind being an outcast about most things, but when it comes to spirituality – I would really like there to be someone who can relate to me.
Nevertheless, I feel like it is time for me to come out of this ‘spiritual closet’ that I have been in.
I aspire to love and follow Jesus Christ, but I am not your typical Christian. I believe that every faith tradition is valid (validity doesn’t equal truth), that we can learn from one another, and that we should make an effort to do so. But I am not of the belief that we can all follow our own paths and all be right. Jesus said He is the way.
I may be making a mountain out of the mole-hill that is my spiritual duality, but I have felt like it is so hard to be openly both.