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In a recent magazine interview, I was asked what spirituality meant to me. My answer

“Spirituality for me is an awareness of deeper values and meanings. It is a discovery of a connection and relationship with ones maker. It’s about nourishing that awareness by praying, meditating and educating one’s being with the word. Most importantly, I believe it is about a constant growth that goes beyond the material world”.

In the subsequent edition of the magazine, writer and Arts journalist Molara Wood a lady whose work I admire was asked the same question and this was her answer;

“For me spirituality is a personal thing. It does not need to be demonstrated for the consumption or validation of others. Spirituality is being at peace with yourself and all around you. If we are attentive, the essence of God can manifest in all we do and see”. Her answer I felt was even more apt because it highlighted our preoccupation with the overt aspects of one of the most ethereal and introspective of practices.

Whenever I find myself in a conversation about God, personal values, principles or even biblical philosophy, while the other person seems to be pumped up by the conversation, there is a ubiquitous question that seems to follow suit, asked with a fervent curiosity.

Please, if you don’t mind me asking, what church do you attend?

It always sounds like they are seeking a recommendation but their spirits become highly dampened when I state in a casual reply “ St Agnes Catholic Church in Maryland”. The shock on their faces at times calls for a Kodak moment, and when the contortions finally smooth out, they reveal that they wouldn’t have thought of me as a catholic. Most times though, you can see the disappointment afterwards and at other times, there is an invitation to come along to theirs the following Sunday.

I observe from a lot of people I encounter that they seem more concerned by what church to attend than the awareness of their faith, its understanding and the application or effect of the principles on their lives.

I claim to be non-sectarian, (a contradiction I know) so for me it shouldn’t matter where I choose to worship. I feel that the basis of my faith as a Christian is dominantly based on a God principle. I enjoy the solitude and ritual of mass. It induces a meditative and reflective state that can prove very difficult to achieve even during personal quiet time living in such a hectic environment. I have also come to believe that one can be as inspired by other people’s faith as much as theirs. I recall my friend developing epilepsy and watching her struggle during one of the most trying times in her life but mostly being inspired by her attitude, approach and the strength she exuded whilst dealing with this illness. Her re-dedication to her faith (Islam) and her level of discipline in relation to certain practices were always enviable but what was most moving was her openness to understanding other people’s beliefs, and traditions and consequently appreciating them.

During an interview with Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, she stated that she believed, the way in which one lived their life truly reflected their beliefs and values. I suppose it re-enforced the idea that it all starts from the inside first.

27 Comments

  1. RMG

    May 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

    For me it all depends on where you connect with your creator whether orthodox , protestant, in your closet or whatever. Every other thing is a ritual for human approval once not connected with the creator.

  2. dewowo

    May 3, 2011 at 10:14 am

    true true. for me, my faith deepens by mere seeing my helplessness and admitting the sovereignty of God!

    • Gidi

      November 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      I feel you die.

  3. menoword

    May 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I grew up in a church where there were rules for everything. However, I only started to gain real peace when I threw out the rulebook and started focusing on connecting my heart with God’s. It’s far from what it should be, but now instead of a constant fear of judgement, I wake up every morning knowing that I am blessed and I am loved. It truly starts from the inside.

  4. Amseriouslyinlove.

    May 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Matthew 6:19-21
    Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    Jesus is the way the truth and the life, whether people accept it or not,no one can go through Him except through Jesus.

    And the foundation of the Lord standeth sure,tha does who nameth the name of the Lord should henceforth depart form sin/iniquity..even me writing;

    Lastly, He is coming back again! am I ready?

  5. Sim

    May 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    “I observe from a lot of people I encounter that they seem more concerned by what church to attend than the awareness of their faith…” Only if I could put the “awareness of their faith” in bold.
    Interesting piece.

  6. Chioma

    May 3, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Wana, i totally agree with you/ Most people think that Catholics are not serious Christians. Sometimes, they say stuff like, “Go to a living church.” And i wonder, who has a right to categorize churches into groups: living and dead?

    If Jesus were here would he be pleased with the way some Christians look down on other Christians from different denominations?

    Thank you for this insightful piece!

  7. Ronke

    May 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Totally on point….spirituality is not somethin to be determined by the church u attend and all…Its should be from within u..

  8. Eva

    May 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I totally agree with you. I am a devout Catholic and i love the solitude and the non-judgmental nature of being a Catholic. Living in North America, if you do not go to mass, no one will assume you have lost your faith, they just assume you were busy and advise you to find time with God. But I remember when I was in the school library, and a fellow Nigerian and myself were discussing faith. I wished God had warned me, but the girl started to say that since I am Catholic, I am as good as a pagan. I was dumbfounded especially since she is in university. I did not think university students could be close-minded especially in a Western country.

    She asked me, where is my God? I told her, my God is everywhere. I see Him in people, nature, in the buildings, bridges,etc, because without him we humans could not have been born, or things could not have been made. Then she says, “You see what I am saying. Only a pagan will say such a thing.” She says, her pastor says that God is only in heaven. This time I was ANGRY. I told her that I have respected her faith, but she seems to have problems accepting mine. She advised me to come to her church, that I need saving. I told her that if her church members and her man of God thought the way she did, I’d pass.

    As Nigerians we should learn to understand that every faith has its flaw. Every Christian church has its flaw. But I will embrace a faith that does not assume superiority over others. I will embrace a faith that is welcoming, open, and non-judgmental. I go to Baptist, Protestant, etc, churches, but sometimes, I like the man of God to be silent (as in the rituals provided in the Catholic church), so that I can make a decision of what God wants me to do and develop a relationship with him, not what the man of God thinks what God wants me to do and instructs me how to develop my relationship with Him.

    Religion in Nigeria is no longer a dialogue between faiths. Rather a competition as to which church has the most members, or which pastor spoke so eloquently today, or and the list is endless. People develop relationships with their pastors and not with God. My pastor said, my pastor does not approve, my pastor is, my pastor does not say, my pastor laughed, my pastor jumped, my pastor danced, my pastor wore, my pastor does not eat, my pastor..my pastor…my pastor..my pastor…WOW….

  9. Nadine

    May 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    True talk…..

  10. Ready

    May 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    @ Eva, I completely understand your point. My mom was recently telling me how she had this problem & paid about a hundred thousand for different pastors to go “on the mountain to pray with/for her.” I can’t help but wonder why she’s so sensible with everything but that.
    Needless to say, it’s hard for her to understand why I have no religion. When discussing spirituality, people ask me “Are you a christian or muslim?” When they hear my answer is no, many (usually christians) launch into this gospel crusade to try to save my soul. Never mind that I’ve actually sat down & thought over the years of what spirituality means to me, what principles and values I’d love to live my life by, and how to be the best me possible. All of that becomes irrelevant ’cause I don’t go to a church. I choose to believe that there’s a God, & that the essence of God is manifest in all that is around me & that my purpose in life is to somehow leave the world better than when I came into it.
    Now, my decision might be wrong but it does not mean I am a lost soul with no clue of what spirituality is. It is merely a choice; one that came out of deep self-reflection and self awareness. There should be room for all of us to make our decisions and live our lives without being judged on some imaginary scale.

  11. Mary007

    May 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I was not about to read this piece but I am really glad I read it and to the commentators well done

  12. Chikalaka

    May 4, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Love this piece! I am catholic, don’t really go to church or haven’t even had my first communion, I get weird looks from both Catholics and etc whenever I tell them I don’t go to church regularly- i only go for thanksgiving and whenever I feel like. Now this is because 1) I think churches are pretentious! Like you have to look like u are ‘holy’ or act in a certain way that fits in- eg? Some Protestant churches in naija have to look like ur praising God and jump around the whole place! 2) I think it’s the best place to meet people I would rather not. This is why I like the catholic church cos u come do ur thing and leave in peace. Its a good discussion this one because once you know the life doesn’t revolve around the church u start to question and trust he that is in you….which is greater than he that is in the world.

  13. Mr West

    May 4, 2011 at 7:48 am

    “People develop relationships with their pastors and not with God. My pastor said, my pastor does not approve, my pastor is, my pastor does not say, my pastor laughed, my pastor jumped, my pastor danced, my pastor wore, my pastor does not eat, my pastor..my pastor…my pastor..my pastor…WOW”…. Eva’s quote.
    IMO, this depends on an individual having COMMON SENSE and ability to ponder on which a lot of people lack these days.

  14. Tyna

    May 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    nice piece

  15. toke

    May 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    really cool piece. its quite unfortunate that most people have a wrong notion of faith. its a thing of the heart that should reflect in our way of life.

  16. Ulo

    May 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you Wana. And Chikalaka,when we discover that He that 1s on us is greater than he that is in the word,we cant go wrong.

  17. Aderonke

    May 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Well written as always Wana. I have a favorite big friend(Aunt) that is still believing God for the fruit of the womb but she has taken to adoption;in the early stages of her waiting period when depression wants to weigh or family pressure was getting to her she says she tells herself and anyone that cared to listen that “there are no special seats for mothers nor barren women in heaven” likewise there are no seats for members of Catholic, Redeem, Anglican, Deeper life, House on the Rock, House Under the Rock bla bla churches….He will Judge us according to our “Names & Faith”. I have an amazing friend, best friend any girl would wish for and guess what? SHE IS A DEVOTED CATHOLIC and i attend a different church. Remember is not about the church but the INDIVIDUAL & HER FAITH

  18. dwise

    May 6, 2011 at 10:52 am

    “Spirituality for me is an awareness of deeper values and meanings. It is a discovery of a connection and relationship with ones maker. It’s about nourishing that awareness by praying, meditating and educating one’s being with the word. Most importantly, I believe it is about a constant growth that goes beyond the material world”.
    i agree that spirituality starts on the inside but also know that the state of our ‘inner person’ affects the way we view the world and interact with others. and for the reason that we relate to people on different levels i.e age, gender, ethnicity etc, i believe that we should be conscious of our we develop it. this determines the ‘where’ and the ‘what’…

  19. adnyl chicago

    May 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    faith is about the individual and how committed you are in ALL your endeavors…with my faith(Islam) i was drawn to this faith because i needed discipline in my life and not because i wanted to put on my best sunday dress(i live in America, if you’re from here then you know why i say what i say) it was important fro ME to have this relationship this way because i felt the need to be closer to THE Creator not anything else or anyone else.. i wanted to have the sense that the bigger part of me was still alive and instilled in me. i come from a Christian background and was baptized but there always seemed to be something missing and when I found the peace i was looking for my sprirituality started to grow and my inner self grew and i became and are still becoming a better me.. so when you find keep it no matter what your faith, if you read the books clearly no one claimed to be anything Muhammad, Jesus or otherwise…they all would agree that getting closer to THE GOD was most important..

    thanks for this article

  20. the chikoo

    May 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Nice piece!
    I think every individual needs to have a personal relationship with JESUS!and that does not mean that u are sinless or holy what it means is that u acknowledge his as ur creator and source.
    U don’t have to attend a pentecostal church to do that,just make sure u go to Church.

  21. Purpleicious Babe

    May 12, 2011 at 1:44 am

    @ EVA…U are right… its a shame we look to men and not to God..it is one of many reasons we have fallen Christians as their faith is in men(supposed to be emulating God living standards). Thus, when their pastor falls, instead of rebuking and then interceding for him.. we sit around and talk about him or simply emulate him and think its alright and make excuses that God is ok with it since pastor is getting away with it(that is between God and the pastor).

    I have always felt it is not about ur church, it is about you, God and ur state of heart reflecting a true character of JESUS.. My Mum is a classic catholic, she loves her church and sometimes goes pentecostal with us.. I would say from what I know so far from pentecostal churches, my mum lives and exhibits Christ like traits more than the deaconess, pastors etc in churches… I love her simplicity and humility…

    I respect every faith, I have friends that are Hindu, Muslim ect. I talk about JESUS with them but I don’t shove it down their throat but the decision is up to them… All I know is I cant discriminate cos JESUS does not… we are all equal. Besides, my character should speak for me, JESUS said love their neighbour not change thy neighbour, love them as u love thyself…. Loving someone is about loving JESUS.

  22. manny

    May 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    brilliant write up Wana.i came to a point in my life when i struggled with the concept of religion and a relationship with God.at that point i stumbled on a book titled THE VISITATION by FRANK PERRETTI.though a novel it explained what that relationship with God is.i am a catholic will remain one and i have peace.thank you Wana.

  23. Uchechi

    May 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I love this piece…good food for thought, and to the commentators, your views have been insightful.

  24. partyrider

    June 18, 2011 at 11:45 am

    lovely piece and interesting/insightful comments..

  25. smiles

    June 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    luvly piece, im a catholic (by faith)
    well, was born and raised a catholic, started attending another church some yrs ago.. for personal reasons, (not religoius reasons) i still say my rosary, hail marys and everytn.
    i still tell people i am catholic even though i havnt been to a catholic church in like 8yrs..but the teachings and all made me who i am today. i get the look once in a while.. infact my ex and i broke up cos he said he cldnt marry a catholic and raise his his kids in a catholic church…. like i said, i avnt been in a catholic church in yrs… but i still know my faith and deep down, im still catholic. i jst relocated and found a catholic church near my house…i plan to start attendin MASS again… 🙂

  26. onyemalu uchechi

    June 26, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Yeah I totally agree,am a devout catholic n my finace attends winners I follow him to hs church sometimes n will go wt hm somtime on sundays to hs church but I told me I will nt b devouted to hs church like dat bcos I still wnt to remain a catholic n he undastood.I love being a catholic.tnx guys 4 ds piece

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