I don’t often write publicly about my spirituality for the same reason a new mother doesn’t take her infant out to a Metallica concert; it’s growing and sensitive, it doesn’t need exposure to angry forces, and I feel like protecting it from the world during this formative time. Unfortunately no stranger to spiritual abuse and manipulation, I am more cautious with that aspect of myself now that I’ve been around that block a few times. Why people feel the need to bully others about their spiritual journey I’ll never know.

cross

From St. Malo

Yet it is a big part of me, as much as my physical and emotional life. Sometimes I feel a void on my blog, that in my attempt to protect myself from religious vitriol, I limit this space. And that’s a shame. For that reason, I’m using a musical lens to let you in on a subject about which it’s difficult for me to be vulnerable.

For me, the intersection between spirituality and art is constant. When I set about creating something, I feel closest to God. While in the presence of great beauty, which includes art, I experience God, too. That’s why I am such a cheerleader for the arts in general. I believe they feed our souls in ways that are undervalued in contemporary society.

Take music, for instance. Certain songs have guided me through the dark times of my life, providing comfort and clarity. I’ve rewound and replayed them over and over sometimes, these companions that kept my spirit alive when the world seemed intent on crushing it. Or when I was crushing it.

music

From Tours Cathedral

“Even In The Quietest Moments”Supertramp

The searching. I think that’s what a lot of spirituality is about. Searching: searching for meaning, searching for God, searching for a safe place. We never get definitive answers, and that’s where faith develops.

And even when you showed me 
My heart was out of tune
For there’s a shadow of doubt that’s not letting me find you too soon
The music that you gave me
The language of my soul
Oh Lord, I want to be with you.

Won’t you let me come in from the cold?

Crucifixion

Crucifixion – from Mont St. Michel Abbey

“Closer to Fine” – The Indigo Girls

We look for answers in many places. We think we’ve found them, only to be shown we’re wrong. I am always open to being wrong now.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine. 

Apostles

Apostles – from Mont St. Michel Abbey

“Both Sides Now” – Joni Mitchell

Faith to me means looking at life from a different perspective, to question general religious tenets that don’t make sense to me. I’m not sure when I first read Plato’s Apologybut Socrates’ assertion that wisdom comes from knowing you don’t know everything has kept me from self-destruction in my quest for truth. I won’t have the answers to everything, and that’s okay. Once I stopped needing to be right all the time, releasing control of the outcome, I felt a weight lift from my soul.

Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve – from Notre Dame

“Let That Be Enough” – Switchfoot

Simplicity. Stop making faith so complicated, Natalie. Nothing on earth will ever complete me, but there’s nothing wrong with needing to simply be cradled in love’s embrace. Ultimately, that’s my God. Love. (New American Standard Bible, 1 John 4:16).

And all I see
It could never make me happy
And all my sand castles
Spend their time collapsing
Let me know that You hear me
Let me know Your touch
Let me know that You love me
And let that be enough

St. Chapelle

St. Chapelle – the entire Bible depicted in stained glass

“Be Yourself” – Graham Nash

Since having a spiritual awakening, as they say `round the halls in AA, I have learned the value of being myself. Through the real me, God can act. Having spent so many years repressing myself because I was “too much” or “not enough” according to religious standards, I couldn’t see the suffering of others. I was too busy keeping up the charade of being who I thought I needed to be to earn the label “good Christian.” Whatever that is.

We needed a tutor
So built a computer
And we programmed ourselves not to see
The truth and the lying
The dead and the dying
A silent majority […]
Be yourself
Be yourself
Free yourself
Free yourself
See yourself
See yourself
Then you can be yourself

The dome of St. Julien, Tours

The dome of St. Julien, Tours

“In the Garden” – Charles A. Miles (perf. Alan Jackson)

I come from a Christian background, both culturally and religiously, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now. Certain hymns are as much a part of my history as they are my spirituality. Take this hymn, for example. Not only are the words a rich expression of my faith, but this was the hymn sung at my grandmother’s memorial service. I get teary-eyed every time I hear or sing it.

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Garden

From Château Villandry

– – –

With that, I’ve let you in my personal space a little more. It’s hard to expose yourself to judgment and/or ridicule, especially when your intimate spiritual goings-on have been harshly critiqued in the past. I hope that by getting to know me the last year on this blog, you know me. In truth, I am still learning, ever learning.

Oh yeah, and the pictures from my trip to France are the most beautiful expressions of my faith I have in photographs, so I’ve included them just for fun.

My Skewed View

Comments

Some Thoughts and Songs on Spirituality — 32 Comments

  1. Lovely, Natalie. My mom used to sing “From both sides now” as a lullaby to me and my sister when we were kids ~ so I just love it! Thanks for sharing this part of yourself ~ I love your approach and also think it is so much more about ‘living the questions’ than it is finding the answers.
    Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha recently posted…Bravery, Joy, and GratitudeMy Profile

  2. Oh, Natalie. I love everything about this post. I love your thoughts on spirituality. I love the way you have tentatively – but bravely – opened up this part of yourself. And I love the music. I feel privileged to know these things about you now. I have no doubt that if we had the chance to sit down over a cup of coffee, we would have much to talk about and share. Thanks for sharing this and opening yourself up. XOXO
    Christine Organ recently posted…The Real Reason We Are Scared to Be VulnerableMy Profile

  3. Wow, Natalie! This is amazingly wonderful. I love how much you’ve opened yourself up here, although I’m sad that your faith has been ridiculed in the past. You’re so right that art and beauty and the creation of it all brings us closer to God. Also, we used to sing “Both Sides Now” – Joni Mitchell at summer camp when I was a kid. I sing it to this day (not well but it still moves me and that’s what’s it really about).
    Kristi Campbell recently posted…I thought I heard the Voice of GodMy Profile

  4. Great idea. I’ve opened my blog up to spiritual matters a few times, and it’s opened up interesting discourse. Music is the bedrock of my faith (more so than the Bible), and so I completely understand where you are coming from with this entry. For me, it has been Jars of Clay, Gungor (recently), Collective Soul (believe it or not), and Delirious that have helped me through some hard times. For hymns: Old Rugged Cross and It is Well With my Soul.
    Chris Plumb recently posted…With Risk Comes Reward, and Potentially, a Damaged Spinal CordMy Profile

    • I’m still kind of afraid of those kinds of discourses. I don’t feel as if I have enough answers to engage in any kind of debate, so I generally avoid them for now.
      And great bands/songs you listed. Love those hymns. And yes, Collective Soul I also consider to have some spiritually themed songs.

  5. I’m glad you shared your faith in this post – I understand being hesitant to do that. You write eloquently about your spiritual journey – all of our journeys. I really enjoyed reading this and listening to the songs you chose.
    Dana recently posted…The spirit singsMy Profile

  6. I love how you handled this topic and the post. Faith can be a sensitive issue at its best – so I can’t imagine how it feels to have had yours challenged and ridiculed. So sorry to hear that.

    You did this beautifully. I had only known the Indigo Girls one previously. Courtesy of this hop, I’ve also come across the Joni Mitchell one too. I loved the Alan Jackson song you ended with – and the message in Let That be Enough.
    Louise recently posted…You Gotta Have Faith!My Profile

  7. I really love your picks Natalie. Really cool that we both picked Joni! And Graham Nash – Joni’s ex. Great connection there. Closer To Fine!!! This song has always been a favorite – perfect for this list. I never heard the Supertramp song and it’s been a Supertramp week, so thank you for introducing me to that one. Spirituality is a personal thing, so thanks for sharing this with us. Music is such a great means of communication when for the more sensitive subjects – I agree.
    Linda Roy recently posted…100 Word Song: PenitentiaryMy Profile

  8. I think we’re soul mates. 🙂
    I know, I’m jumping the gun but Indigo Girls *sigh*, Supertramp *yay*, Joni Mitchell *love*

    Both sides now is the ultimate in spiritual isn’t it?
    Looking at something from every side and coming to terms with the fact that you still don’t understand it.

    I loved your list, it sang to my soul.
    Kir recently posted…A Letter to My Father {Pour Your Heart Out}My Profile

  9. “Let that be enough” is one of my favorite songs!… the lyrics are so perfectly beautiful. I can relate so much to this post and agree that art and music are the biggest inspirations for spiritual enlightenment and inspiration. Having grown up with you I know we’ve discussed our faith many times and it is a forever growing & changing process- but a process that becomes more grounded, deep and connected (instead of a confused ideal of what we should be in order to “deserve” love from God- such a silly notion isn’t it?… when you take into context of who Jesus was) and you totally took me back to when we sang at your grandmothers funeral :’) (can’t believe after all these years I still remember the words). BTW another favorite is “Blessings” (Laura Story) It’s helped give me perspective through tough times and I believe everything that happens has a time and a reason. Even the events we perceive as being “bad” can be a catalyst for good (I think you’d agree 😉

    • I know. I appreciate those talks with you so much. Having grown up together, I think we understand where we’re coming from, which I appreciate so much. It’s so nice to have someone to walk the journey with. And I’m still grateful it was you who got to sing at my grammy’s funeral – it meant so much.
      I’ll have to listen to that song.
      I agree with you, 100%. Some of the worst things in life have turned out to be the best things that could have happened to me.

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