Though I am not Catholic, I went to a Catholic College, which was originally a Franciscan Monastery. In keeping with the traditions of the college, I had to take six credits in Religious studies, as did all the students there. I chose courses in the history of Western Civilization and Religion, where we examined the origins and effects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam on the Western world from about 3,000 BC to the twentieth century. It was very informative and interesting, but it didn’t speak to my heart, or give me any moments of deep insight. What I found more spiritually enriching were the classes in Anatomy and Physiology I and II, and a science elective in astronomy. I had moments of awe and wonder in those classes, and a glimpse of a Creator of all, from the smallest to the largest things in existence.

What is spirituality, and how is it different from faith or religion? Here are my definitions, according to my own understanding, filtered through my own beliefs:

  • Religion is a system of beliefs regarding the origin, nature, and purpose of the universe and life. Religion is characterized by ceremonies and rituals and devotion to a Supreme Being, in the case of Monotheistic religions, or multiple beings, in the case of a polytheistic religion. There is also a strong element of a code of conduct for people.
  • Faith is a confidence and certainty in that which cannot be detected by human senses, or scientifically verified, or that which has not occurred yet.
  • Spirituality is a sense of connection with something vast and greater than yourself, or this world. For Christians, as well as Jews and Muslims, this will embody a Creator, or Author of all.

Religion is to put it mildly, a controversial and highly personal topic, beyond the scope of this article. Faith is also not the focus here, but rather spirituality, which according to what I believe, may be experienced as perception of a creator. Introverts are thinkers; deep thinkers, as I have observed elsewhere in my writing on this site. One of the topics introverts ponder is matters of spirituality. I am not pushing my beliefs on my readers, but rather presenting them for your consideration. You may already experience spiritual moments, and see evidence of a Creator, of something far greater and more profound than our finite lives. You may have had experiences which were difficult to put into words, but were much more emotional and intuitive. You may have already:

1. Experienced Awe at the size and complexity of the Universe.

We are living on a pinpoint, a speck of dust in the cosmos. The Universe is unimaginably vast, and full of stars, planets, comets, asteroids, black holes, pulsars, quasars, nebulae, and things yet undiscovered. When you look up at the night sky, with your naked eyes, on a clear night away from city lights you will be able to see about 4,000 stars. There are about 100,000,000,000 stars in our average size galaxy, which would take you 100,000 years to cross at the speed of light. . There are more galaxies in the Universe than there are stars in our galaxy. If the laws of physics in our Universe were tweaked ever so slightly, life would be impossible. Where did it all come from? Who made it? Why is it here? Is there intelligent life, or life in any form, out there on planets orbiting one of those points of light? For a look at the scale of the Universe, check out this you tube video. (n.a., 2012).

2. Felt grateful for what seem to be ordinary occurrences:

Imagine our world without the cycle of evaporation and condensation. Every time it rains, we are witnessing an amazing event. I believe rain is a sign of God’s love for us. The nature of light is when it is bent, it deviates toward orange and red, giving us the beautiful colors of a sunset as the earth rotates away from the sun each evening.

3. Felt appreciation of the small things

The grandeur of creation is not just represented by the most enormous things in our Universe, but also the smallest.

Introverts take the time to sit in the quiet and solitude, and contemplate. What will you find there?

 

Written by David A. Porter, MA, LADC
Private Practice clinician
Adjunct Faculty in Psychology and Criminology
Freelance Behavioral Science writer