It is July 2016 and I am sailing with a couple of close friends on Lake Superior in the Slate Islands and the North Shore of Lake Superior along the Southern border of the Ontario Canada wilderness. We are traveling from East to West. It is Sunday and I am not at church as is my usual habit when I am home. As I reflect on this I have become acutely aware that attending institutional Sunday Services is a good habit and reminder that I need to reflect on my life and connect with the Holy Spirit, however attending church in and of itself is not a substitute for detaching from the world and all of its challenges, distractions, pain, frustrations, responsibilities, and all of the material possessions that clutter my mind and time.
Religion can define beliefs, and religious beliefs can be an obstacle to openness and learning and thus hinder spiritual growth, which in turn can influence change and spiritual openness. Let's call this religious attachment. Other forms of attachment can be related to our careers, families, habits, concerns, anxieties, etc., which can and do have the ability to define us and hold us hostage to certain outcomes and paradigms.
Deep Spirituality on the other hand is achieved through detachment and letting go. This practice allows me to have freedom to become disposed and release all that attaches me to a complicated life that causes separation from God's Holy Spirit. It is during times, like this two-week sailboat trip in the Lake Superior Wilderness, away from work, family, business, etc., that allows my Spirit to once again soar and become one with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
This soaring image was greatly enhanced as I watched many eagles soar toward the heavens along the shores of Lake Superior -- yet another image and reinforcement of God’s presence in my life and in the world if I would just take the time to soak it up!
God’s creation is so obvious when we are separated from everything that People have created. (This doesn't mean that all that People have created is necessarily bad or evil; on the contrary, because God gave us the intellect to create, there is obvious good in all that we do and achieve.) The challenge is for us to separate from all of the noise of this world that distracts us from all of God's natural creation and the sounds of the wind, sea, birds, animals, the light of the moon and stars at night, the bright light of the sun and the warmth it brings, after a chilly evening.
My friends and I experienced the graciousness of God's gifts in so many ways over a two-week period. I fished for food and we were provided fresh trout for our dinner. We anchored in the snug bays of remote Islands, and hiked on little traveled paths to be mesmerized by a magnificent waterfall. We marveled over a young caribou with antlers in velvet. We observed and listened to the loons and saw a young loon, now full grown but not quite dressed out in its adult feathers. We soaked up all of the greatness and wonder of God’s creation. We were reminded that the presence of the Holy Spirit is surrounding us constantly in all that we do, in everyone that we meet. Sometimes we just need to get away to empty our minds and look toward the heavens separate from the distractions of life.
God is certainly in our presence. We only need to acknowledge and quiet ourselves to notice that the Holy Spirit surrounds us all of the time.