What is the spiritual lens through which you view the world? What does that look like in action?
As a person who was raised Catholic and a product of catholic education from kindergarten through college, I, no doubt, have been shaped by the Catholic faith, and this foundation informs my spirituality today. Throughout my young adult years, however, I've explored and melded together a myriad of spiritual and religious perspectives, which today help make up my spiritual lens.
I believe in a higher power, which I sometimes refer to as God, other times I refer to this as the universal presence, the spirit of the universe that binds us all, no matter our background, beliefs or creed. I rely heavily on the notion that we all as humans and every bit of creation share a common make up. We all exist in the universe and we are all bound to each other and called to love and compassion.
I occasionally draw on Buddhist tradition, especially in the context of re-incarnation. Specifically, one meditation practice offered by the Dalai Lama in his book, "How to Expand Love" asks the reader to center another, whether friend, enemy or stranger as someone who was once your brother, your mother, your own kin, to cultivate the sense of love and attachment one has for those closest to them and extend this feeling to others who are, frankly, hard to love. I really appreciate this kind of meditative practice. It pulls me into seeing and honoring the full humanity of another person, even someone who has hurt me, or someone I barely even know.
My values have been formed by that which I've experienced and been taught. I strive to remain open-hearted and meet each person in my life with genuine kindness, respect and love. This looks to me like listening while withholding judgement; offering benefit of the doubt to those I clash with or disagree with; making time to understand and educate myself on experiences not my own; committing to self-reflection and self-awareness, especially when I am stirred with strong emotions like sadness, anger and frustration; and also offering my lived experience to those who inquire and are open to listening.
I do not practice a specific religion or profess one creed, but I draw on the strong moral foundation and critical thinking skills I obtained, by virtue of my catholic education and upbringing, to inform my conscience and strive to act with love, speak with love, and listen with love.
Faith, for me, is not about certitude or about my beliefs or one set of beliefs being right. I believe that we live in a universe full of mystery and that love is the one language that enables true joy, happiness and connection. These are what I strive for in all that I am and all that I do.
Erin Everson is an alumna of Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha, Nebraska, and current communications coordinator for the United States – Canada Province. Her views expressed in this article are her own and not that of the USC Province.