Spirituality & Compassion in Action


IDENTITY & LOYALTY

Image credit: Hamed Saber

Image credit: Hamed Saber

Spiritual, But Not Religious, But Not Woo-Woo
by Marty Kaplan, Special Contributor
On Being, Public Theology Reimagined

On Being special contributor Marty Kaplan was raised in the Orthodox Jewish tradition, but, as he grew older, he felt a stronger pull towards the Reform tradition of his religion. This is something that doesn't always sit well with the more conservative, traditional wing of his faith. He writes: "It is not uncommon for some Orthodox Jews to maintain that Reform Jews like me are as Jewish as gentiles. Drawing and enforcing boundaries is something that the world’s religions excel at. Religious rules create identity and loyalty. Instead of the secular agony of figuring out how to live and what to do, religion offers the supreme serenity of obedience: submission to scriptural, priestly and divine authority. This can build remarkably cohesive communities. It can also — ironically, in light of religion’s avowed spiritual aspirations — be soul-crushing." You can read more about his experience here. Regardless of your faith, religion, or system of beliefs, is this question of identity something that you have dealt with in your own spiritual life? How have you wrestled with questions of meaning and purpose in relation to your spiritual identity while also remaining true to yourself?


"SURRENDER TO THE EXPERIENCE"

Image credit: Ashfia Ashrif

Image credit: Ashfia Ashrif

Seeking the Kaaba Within
by Daliah Merzaban
Patheos.com

Daliah Merzaban shares the emotional impact of her experience visiting the Kaaba, the heart of Islam's holiest site located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, less than 24 hours after leaving her office situated in the middle of London’s financial district. She beautifully reflects: "The barriers that divide us in our daily lives are lifted here at the point where all directions of prayer converge. No honorary titles or entitlements have worth or function. There’s no distinguishing based on whether you are a woman or man, whether your income bracket is high or low. Rather, the bracketing qualities that contain us outside — our nationality, ethnicity, age, or skin tone — are shed at the door. Wherever our outward journeys have started, we all walk barefoot inward into a single circle, devoid of these unnecessary parenthesis appended to our identities."
 
Merzaban writes about her soul yearning for nourishment as she takes in the sacred energy surrounding Kaaba. How do experiences of sacred spaces influence your own spiritual practice?


A DIFFERENT KIND OF PASSOVER

Image credit: The Passage of the Red Sea, by William Hole (1846-1917)

Image credit: The Passage of the Red Sea, by William Hole (1846-1917)

Why Is This Passover Different From Past Passovers?
by Diane Cole
NPR, Goats & Soda

Why is this Passover different from any other, asks NPR's Diane Cole? Because in a world embroiled with a refugee crisis encompassing roughly 60 million people, the highest number ever recorded, connections between the journey of the ancient Israelites and of refugees today are more relevant than ever. Since Passover is a time of asking questions in community, including "the four questions," Cole suggests building on that tradition to ask four questions specific for the year 2016. You can read and reflect on them here.


LEARNING TO PRAY ANYWHERE & FINDING THE LIGHT

Image credit: Sara Delic, National Geographic Your Shot

Image credit: Sara Delic, National Geographic Your Shot

Poems by Nadia Colburn
On Being, Guest Contributor
Anchor magazine, co-Editor