Are You Spiritual?

by Rabbi Rick Schechter

It’s an elusive idea, spirituality. Broad and deep, spirituality is as hard to define as is love or goodness, truth or beauty. Yet several of us recently made an attempt to, if not define, describe spirituality at a temple board meeting.

Here’s how we described it:

Spirituality is connecting with God, people and community, nature and the world, through experiences of beauty, awe and wonder, meaning and purpose, and acts of transcendence.

Granted, it doesn’t fit well on a bumper sticker, and it’s probably too long for a fortune cookie. However, our attempt at a description of spirituality is inclusive enough to account for the many different approaches you and I might have toward it.

A challenge was raised in our discussion: Many people may not be interested in spirituality. But they are interested in meaningful relationships and community. Does that sound like you?

Herein lies the beauty of how many of us understand what it means to be spiritual. Loving and friendly bonds with others is profoundly spiritual. As writer Parker Palmer so eloquently states, it “answers the heart’s longing to be connected with the largeness of life.”

Our celebration of Hanukkah is a perfect illustration of the various entry points to spirituality:

Hanukkah’s themes of miracle, rededication to God and sacred purposes, and human-Divine cooperation are points of connection.

The beauty and warmth of light, flame, and Hanukkah menorah are other points of connection.

The smells and tastes of latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) are still others way to connect.

The acts of gift-giving, receiving, and tzedakah are still other points of connection.

And parents and children, family and friends coming together in the comfort of home and hearth to celebrate and share in the warmth of their love are still other primary points of connection.

Some people will relate to one or two of the above-mentioned spiritual connections of Hanukkah. Other people may relate to all of those listed. And some people will discover and connect with Hanukkah in ways that haven’t been mentioned.

Like love and beauty, truth and goodness, spirituality is something fundamental in which I think we all engage. We may just call it by another name.

May you and your family have a happy Hanukkah and a joyous season.

Rabbi Rick Schechter is the spiritual leader of Temple Sinai of Glendale, CA.

Originally posted at Rabbi Rick’s Blog