The True Essence: Rethinking Spirituality

By By Carrie Andrew

By Carrie Andrew

Spirituality?an interesting subject in light of the way that so many Americans responded to the terrorist attacks of a little over a month ago. It seemed that the entire nation threw political correctness to the wind and boldly, proudly reinvoked the name of God in association with our great country. The phrase ?God Bless America? was broadcast repeatedly over the airwaves.

President Bush held a non?denominational memorial prayer service. Various religious leaders all over the nation remarked that perhaps the United States was experiencing a spiritual reawakening.

While it is unlikely that prayer will be reinstated at graduation ceremonies, I think there is truth to such an observation. For many people, spirituality is closely tied to religion and to God.

However, spirituality should by no means be limited to its association with religious values.

Independent of individual religious affiliation or belief in God, every single American did some reevaluating following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

What did we reevaluate? We looked at our priorities and what is most important to us. We got back in touch with our families and our loved ones. We searched for the essence of ourselves and our lives.

That is what spirituality is?with or without religion. It is discovering the spirit, or the essence, of who we are individually and who we are collectively.

The way that New Yorkers came together after the horror of Sept. 11 could be called the spirit of New York.

The way Congress came together, putting political differences aside, as well as the response of citizens everywhere who donated blood and money, might be called American spirit.

The way firefighters, rescue workers and medical teams worked to the point of exhaustion in an effort to save even one life is a portrayal of the human spirit.

That same human spirit was manifested around the world as citizens of many countries displayed their sympathy for the loss of life here in the United States.

I was touched when I watched on TV as Russian citizens placed bouquet after bouquet of flowers outside of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

The Russian people are an excellent example of spirituality without religion. They lived in an atheist country for 70 years, and it was often dangerous to express religious spirituality. Many of them met their spiritual needs, the need to discover one?s individual or collective essence, through literature or poetry put to music.

Many Russians are still atheists, and yet they consider themselves to be very spiritual people.

If indeed the United States has experienced a spiritual reawakening, many have or will turn to God and their respective religions in search of spiritual fulfillment to sustain them in trying times. Others, like many Russians, will find their spiritual needs met through literature, music, art or philosophy.

Regardless of how it is done, it is important to cultivate in our individual spirituality that collective human spirit so admirably displayed by countless Americans over the last month.

The spirit that recognizes that the essence of each person is unique and precious, deserving of love and respect.

Carrie welcomes feedback at:

[email protected]