Bridging the Divided

The Greatest Of These Is Love

Spirituality is the search for life’s meaning. Spirituality is the realization that we are all connected and originated from something much bigger than ourselves. Religion is mankind’s response to spirituality.  Spirituality and religion are not the same.

In my search for the meaning of life, I keep coming back to I Corinthians 13 – also known as the Love Chapter. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 11-13 New International Version)

When I became an adult I put the ways of childhood behind me. Childhood thoughts and reasoning are limited, are they not? In part, this means that I opened myself to new thoughts, new ideas, that I chose to see the larger picture. As an adult, I am free to explore beyond the church walls where I was raised. Spirituality vs. religion.

It is interesting that Paul references a mirror to describe how we view life and God. What do mirrors do? Mirrors reflect light, reflecting images of ourselves or other objects back to us. The images we see in mirrors aren’t real, they are representations and sometimes illusions. Mirrors can skew what is reflected back. Mirrors in Fun Houses are examples of skewed reflections. In other words, we can’t depend upon the mirror to accurately reflect reality. 

Paul said we see through a glass darkly, we see in part. What we know about life, God, religion, or spirituality is a reflection of our beliefs, and beliefs are neither totally right nor totally wrong. And yet, much time and effort are spent trying to prove the beliefs of others are wrong, to prove our beliefs are accurate and others are not. Down through the centuries, much blood has been spilled for the same reason. Chasms develop between people and families as lines are drawn in the sand. For what purpose? None of us sees reality, only the reflection.

Sitting in the church pew while all who gathered to celebrate the life of my husband’s mother, I took in all that I could see, hear, smell, and understand as through a glass darkly. Gathered together were people connected to one another in life, connected to the woman for whom we celebrated. Many who gathered were connected by the religion they shared. In silent awe, I witnessed the ferocity of their faith, their hope that she indeed was alive in spirit, and was welcomed home by those who had gone before. I had come to the celebration thinking I would feel separated because I did not share their religion, but I was wrong. I felt connected, not by shared religious rituals, rather by a spiritual connection that transcended religious rituals. We indeed were all connected to one another and to something much bigger than ourselves. The atmosphere was saturated with love – love for this woman, and the presence of Divine Love whose presence transcended the religious rituals that were wrapped in love.

While we journey through life, we will never see fully, never fully understand God, Divine Love, we will only know in part. On the day we cross over from earthly life to eternal life, we will see fully, know fully, and understand fully. So, for now, these three things remain faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love…..

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