Friday, April 10, 2009

Spiritual solidarity - or not

My sister (hi Danielle!) just spent the last couple of weeks with us - since we've lived at least 2000 miles apart for 10 of the last 11 years, it is a rare treat to spend that much time together. My kids love her imagination and craziness. She and John get along great, whether it's commiserating as I go to bed early or playing bruising games of raquetball.

And of course, as sisters, she and I share so much in common - love of being in the kitchen, playing cards, being active outside, etc. etc. There are a few things we differ on, like the appeal of her beet salad and taste in movies/documentaries/books. Big deal though. One topic that came up a few times though raises some discord between us - spiritual stuff.

I have my beliefs about God, after life, values. She has hers. We're each seeking and pursuing truth, and feel the friction as we discuss it with each other. It's not fun, it's not comfortable for either of us. I think that we both long for some sort of sisterly solidarity in what we believe.

As I think about it, I think that most of us have that longing to agree with each other on spiritual matters. Maybe it's selfish as much as anything, a longing to be validated that I'm right about what I am believing or doing. Solidarity is community of feelings, purposes, responsibilities, interests. Belonging to community beats the alternative, discord (lack of agreement; conflict, dispute, friction).

Spiritual solidarity takes many forms. At one extreme, maybe it explains why people buy into cults, where there is so much agreement, even on details, that things get out of whack. Or what about the denominations or sects that each religion has, the ones we (fiercely?) align ourselves with? On the other end of the spectrum, maybe we seek solidarity in a non-sectarian practice or belief system, or non-denominational churches, or unitarian beliefs. Then we all agree that "non" is the best and rally around that. In one form or another, to one degree or another, it seems we're all seeking that spiritual solidarity - including in our families!

Maybe our search for the comforts of solidarity is a mis-prioritized search. I return to the words of Jesus that I've read lately, because he's the starting point of my own faith. "Let the dead bury their dead, you follow me." "What is it to you if he lives until I return, you follow me." "Seek first the kingdom of God."

Before I'm seeking the comforts of a spiritual community that agrees with me or I agree with, am I seeking and following God?

(That's me, out on a limb alone.) P.S.- Love you Danielle, thanks for visiting!


Jenn said...

looks like you guys had alot of fun together! :)
that is one great thing about family--even though you may disagree and step on each others toes or whatever, you still love each other and there is a bond and love that you cant make or find!

Don said...

Hi Joanna,

We're back from vacationing in lovely Oceanside. It was full of fun surprises. We thought of you and John, and how much you'd enjoy the place. (A playground on the beach!)

Glad you had fun with Danielle. Hmmm... she's on a bridge rockin' the boat for fun in one picture, and you're working for balance on a tree in another...

A metaphor for the present?

"The balance is still plenty foggy to me. But maybe I'm onto a content path to ambition. Or an ambitious path to contentment."

You reached a good conclusion both here (this post) and there (your post from which I quote).

Solidarity may or may not include those closest to you. But out on the limb alone, I see Someone else moving in the trees, the breeze, and in your very breath.

"No, never alone." -- from a hymn.



I really liked this post, Joanna. thanks for sharing. I never thought of the work solidarity much. that gives me more to munch on in my thinking and reading and journaling. I too like the conclusion to which you came...switching the focus from "who agrees with me?" to "I'm just going to worry about following Jesus"! cool!