June 2014 Features
During June 2014, readers provided feedback about the Blue River Monthly website by completing the Two-Minute Survey.
Photo of the Month: Bridge over Rock Creek
Gazing at a bridge can bring to mind how it’s both exciting and scary to be in transition, to be “in between,” to be up in the air….
Book Review: A Religion of One's Own
You may be familiar with the book, Care of the Soul, a bestseller by Thomas Moore. His newest book, released earlier this year, is entitled, A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World. In it, he presents numerous ways to develop one’s personal spirituality. He reassures the reader that “It can be accomplished inside or outside a traditional religious organization.” Moore’s background gives him a unique perspective regarding the spiritual and secular sides of life. He was raised in a Catholic family and he studied for the priesthood; at 26, before completing his preparation for that vocation, he left his religious order—he went on to obtain his PhD in religion and to marry and have two children.
According to Moore, one key aspect of creating one’s own religion is feeling free to draw upon spiritual traditions from around the world. Whatever your own background, you can study various religions and try different types of practices, such as meditation, prayer and spiritual reading. He also discusses how nature, art and music can play important roles in a personal religion.
Moore talks in detail in the book about how he practices his own personal religion, and that helps the reader gain a sense of what it means to approach spirituality in this way. Among other things, working with dreams has been a significant practice for him. He writes that dreams “are an open window allowing fresh information to enter from elsewhere.” He also gives examples of people who he believes created their own religions—they include the painter Georgia O’Keeffe and the naturalist and writer Henry David Thoreau.
Perhaps a quote from the book’s introduction best summarizes what Moore is getting at when he refers to a religion of one’s own: “I’m recommending a courageous, deep-seated, fate-driven, informed, and intelligent life that has sublime and transcendent dimension.” His book provides many valuable suggestions and ideas regarding how one might go about living such a life.
3 Thoughts about 50
This year, the youngest baby boomers—those born in 1964—are turning 50. (Among them are Sandra Bullock, Stephen Colbert, Russell Crowe, Bobby Flay, Laura Linney and Michelle Obama.) In honor of that milestone, here are a few observations about being in the 50-and-over club:
1) One of the advantages of being age 50 or over is that you have at least five decades of life experience to draw upon as you deal with new situations or contemplate possible courses of action. Most of us have learned a lot of life lessons that can help us make decisions going forward.
2) Most of us also seem to be more resilient at this time of life than when we were young adults. We’re aware that we’ve managed to get through many challenging situations and we’ve developed skills and knowledge that will help us deal with future challenges.
3) Many of us who are age 50 or over are fortunate enough to have some friendships that go back two or three or more decades. Such friendships are woven into the fabric of our lives in extraordinary ways.
Word of the Month: Integrity
When I think of the word “integrity,” one of the first phrases that comes to mind is “owning your choices.” When we act with integrity, we take responsibility for the consequences of our chosen actions, whatever those consequences might be. If we instead pretend that we didn’t make a particular choice, we’re going to tend to feel a lack of wholeness inside.
Integrity applies even when our actions are unintentional. When we accidentally hurt someone, we act with integrity when we apologize and try to make the situation better. As Mark Nepo writes in The Book of Awakening, “making amends” is “a simple yet enormous act of integrity that restores trust.”
It’s interesting to consider how authenticity and integrity are related. Some people act authentically but without integrity—their actions reflect their true selves but they don’t take responsibility for the consequences of those actions. So sometimes you can observe authenticity in a person along with a lack of integrity. However, when you see someone consistently acting with integrity, it seems like such a person will generally be living authentically; the acts of integrity reflect the strong connection between the person’s inner and outer selves. Being responsible for the consequences of our actions, whether those actions are chosen or accidental, might be one of the most important things we can do in our day-to-day lives. It contributes immeasurably to a sense of wholeness within us and to a sense of trust between us and others in our lives.