On Spirituality: Embracing All

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This post references religion extensively, however it’s really about the magic that can come from the absence of organized religion and the awareness and harmony that stems from embracing all spiritual beliefs.

So many of us retreat to a place of spiritual worship a few times a year at best depending on the religious holiday. For Christians, Christmas Eve is a traditional one and often there’s a candlelight service. Traditionally, Catholics attend a midnight mass, which often also involves candles and prayer.

I haven’t gone to a church in years. Don’t get me started on all the reasons……. let’s just say that as a child, I was baptized under five different religions, sent to a private Catholic school even though none of my family had a Catholic background, lived on a kibbutz and an ashram and worked as a counselor at both Christian and Jewish summer camps……..need I say more. Life of Pi really resonated with me.

Tonight I discovered a spiritual center in San Jose, which is an interesting mix of worship across all spiritual beliefs, yoga and meditation.

Their vision is a unity of literally every belief system and they gracefully weave in philosophies and insights from Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism as well as read excerpts from the Bible. This is true spirituality at its best, or what I’ll call spiritual clarity.

The back of the room houses a large plaque of all the symbols in the temple, including the lower right hand symbol of the Sun in Nature, which represents Indigenous Faiths and the Flame of the Eternal Way.


Their belief is in One Truth known by many names. I love this. “The awakened life is the opportunity to live authentically, in harmony with the Divine Plan and Purpose.”

Didn’t Gandhi say “Even as a tree has a single trunk but many branches and leaves, so there is one true and perfect religion, but it becomes many as it passes through the human medium.”

And Rumi said, “Come whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving, come. This is not a caravan of despair. It doesn’t matter if you’ve broken a vow a thousand times, still come and yet again come.”

We lose sight of what is real when we are plagued by the rules of one religion, which if not followed………….if not followed, then what? We face hell. We are not considered sacred. We are extricated from a community. I don’t see the holy and pure here.

I love the ‘golden thread’ philosophy of embracing the harmony of all religious and spiritual beliefs. This mystical core is referred to as the Ageless Wisdom, the Perennial Philosophy or the Eternal Way.

Tonight reminded me of a discovery I made a few months before my wedding day. My ex-husband and I were trying to determine where we wanted to exchange our vows and frankly, our first choice was on a boat just off the coast of Cape Town South Africa.

We had moved back to the states however and decided on New England. One cold February day, I noticed a small stone chapel up on a hill, mostly hidden by trees and snowbanks.

At that time, I had lived in ten countries and Michael had lived in at least half as many. You’ll understand why we ended up getting married in that small chapel on the hill when you read the background. The reason I’m sharing the experience and integrating its history into this ‘story’ is because of the relevance of the last sentence, which is what was so magical about tonight: So also all international tongues are one in the House of God!!

The church door, hidden from the busy road, is reached by a country path winding under steltering trees, while wisteria and ivy clamber at will up its sturdy walls. Here is a small place of peace in a troubled world.

The family and their myriad friends collected many aids to beauty from all parts of the globe during their worldwide travels. The fifteenth century reredos, a triptych with scenes from the Passion, was brought back from Spain. The six candlesticks on the altar are of old Spanish design. The ancient wooden tabernacle door with the resurrection banner, is undoubtedly the oldest and most valuable gift to the chapel. The door dates back to the ninth century and is from the Far East. The brass processional cross is Abyssinian and was given to the chapel at the time of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.

The banner was embroidered by a wounded British soldier after the First World War. The small wooden statue of St. Elizabeth of Hungary was carved by Kirchmeyer who perfected his art in Oberammergau. The ikon with mirrors upon the chapel was given to the family by a Russian refugee. The French tapestry framed upon the wall is reputed to be the work of the ill-fated Queen Marie Antoinette of France. The bell hanging outside the chapel is an old ship’s bell from a sailing vessel from Gloucester and is said to have circled the globe many times. The bell rang out at the end of the First World War on November 11, 1918.

Strangers climb the winding path under the towering pines to the door of the little chapel and the sense of spirituality is so strong within its quiet stone walls that many kneel to pray. Old and new, Spanish, African, French, Russian, English, American…..all these elements of beauty blend together in a strangely harmonious way within this chapel built from New England stones.

So also all international tongues are one in the House of God!!

Embracing and accepting people’s differences by accessing the empathy and spirit we have within us is powerful.

Happy Holidays!! Make it count.

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