Spirituality and the Episcopal Way

The Christianity which we proclaim, the faith which we hold, is not just the bare letter of the Gospel, but it is the life of Christ, present in every age in the lives of the saints, Christ’s life down the centuries. — A. M. Allchin

Our roots are in the Celtic and Benedictine traditions of spiritual life — the common prayer of communities, day by day, week by week, shaping belief and action. In the 16th century, that tradition expressed itself in Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. The tradition continues now among 85 million people throughout the world and here at St. Paul’s, Brighton.

Here are a few elements of our way.

  • We serve and engage our society
  • Our engagement primarily takes place in the daily life of our members
  • The grounding for our life is common prayer, in which we experience God
  • The integration of our life is in reflectiveness and community
  • We accept complexity, ambiguity, and paradox in our thinking about God, creation, and humanity.

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is seen by some as a journey into a person’s true self; some see it as our relationship to God, others, creation, and self. There are many views.

Henri Nouwen saw the spiritual life as “that constant movement between the poles of loneliness and solitude, hostility and hospitality, illusion and prayer. The more we come to the painful confession of our loneliness, hostility and illusions, the more we are able to see solitude, hospitality and prayer as part of the vision of our life.” Reaching Out, Doubleday & Co., 1975

Evelyn Underhill saw it this way: “After all it is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life.”

“Through awareness, you get a certain attitude. That’s the way, you see, to achieve more peaceful, more compassion, more friendship through that way.” ―The Dalai Lama

“I’m not religious, but I like God and he likes me.” ―Tony Kushner, Angels in America

Bonnie Raitt said, “Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.”

Alan Jones sees spirituality as “that which gives meaning and harmony to the whole of human experience … the peculiar way in which we arrange all the bits and pieces of our lives and glue them together.”

Spirituality has all these meanings. It refers to something broad and common to all humanity. It’s also tribal. We live locally, as part of families, cultures, and societies. Each has its own spirituality. Each has its way of providing meaning and engaging spiritual practice.