I have been away for part of the week at a training event for us Baby Vicars and part of that, to use the Diocese of Oxford sloganography, was to look at how we 'sustain the Sacred Centre'. It forms the first 'stage' in the Diocese's process for engaging with Living Faith, and whilst it is tickety-boo for me and those like me, has given rise to a question in my own mind about others who perhaps are not like me.
'How do non-religious, atheist, humanist, agnostic etc etc people sustain their ....!
...and that is where I have hit a wall. Language, words, value-laden constructs ...
In order to try to attend to the 'blank' in this, I have to make some assumptions, as I see them (all flawed, all value laden, all my best try).
1. All people, whether of a faith or not, must have a sense of themselves as more than just tissue, bones and synapses.
2. Whether chemical or innate, that sense of themselves that goes beyond the fleshly aspect of our human existence is intangible and is unique to each person
3. Like all parts of the human body, this innate facet of our being is apt to depletion like all parts are if not sustained (in the same way that not eating or drinking depletes our physical characteristics)
4. As a human being who has a care for others, I long to know how people without a faith sustain that part of their being so that I can learn about humanity and not just Christians
5. Words like 'sacred' or 'centre' may not be applicable, or even terms like 'inner' or 'heart' in the sense of it being the root of the emotional sense.
This post is as a preamble to a thought that I will try to unpack in the Heathen Hub, a place of significant (and good) learning for me about what it is to be a human. I have written it here partly because I would love all Christians (my main audience here is Christian) to have a care and to learn how it is to live life outside of our own circle. I think a world where Christians only know about the internal cares of Christians is not within our mandate to love the world. We must learn to understand and appreciate those who are different from us, and even to learn from them - and then to have a due care for them as equals in our humanity.
I want to learn how people such as atheists 'tick'. I have the God stuff, the Jesus stuff, and a whole array of historically tested meditative practices that attends to an inner life that I believe for myself is rooted in a relationship with God. I have wondered how, for people who have no sense of 'other' in the deistic sense and no sense that there is anything external to the existence of being a human, how it is possible to energise the interior places, or simply energise the energies. In a sense, it feels easy to be religious. There are extra factors for us, and implicit activities and behaviours that are concomitant with them.
I think, in short, I am interested to know how people without a god sustain their 'sacred centres'.