There has been a great deal of media buzz recently about the growing segment of the U.S. religious landscape called “unaffiliated”; people who are spiritual, sometimes deeply so, but not affiliated with any one religion. They are being cleverly branded as the ‘Nones” and are touted as part of a huge shift in our culture. My friend Anne Benvenuti has wisely observed that most of the “Nones” she knows are actually “Alls”; rather than having no religious identification, there are a growing number of us who weave together spiritual practices and beliefs from multiple religious traditions.
I am one of these people and so are many people I know. I meet many people who have moved beyond religion to interfaith engagement – and then beyond interfaith to an even more inclusive and integrated spirituality. I see many of us evolving into embodied interfaith beings.
I am an All because it is the only thing that makes sense to me.
I have traveled through many stages in my spiritual journey, starting with a childhood of Sunday school, catechism and confirmation in a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran church. As a young adult I was first an agnostic (rejecting the old dogma) and then a seeker and then a New Age explorer. My husband and I raised our children in a Christian church community, where they were almost daily participants in the dynamic youth ministry program. As our kids moved on to college and young adult lives, we both felt free to walk away from the dogma of that church, clarified for us just before the 2008 elections when the pastor reminded us that the Bible was clear about how we should vote on California’s gay marriage initiative. For the past 15 years of my life I have been awakened to the Divine Feminine in Her many forms: Celtic wisdom, Christian mystics, indigenous spirituality, Eastern goddesses, feminine archetypes, inclusive language, an evolving Earth-based women’s spirituality. Women of Spirit and Faith has given me the gift of being enfolded in a large community of women from many diverse spiritual perspectives who are re-membering their natural spiritual authority and discovering their authentic spiritual leadership. We hunger for a feminine lexicon for the Divine – She, Her, Mother – and a circular pattern of participation to balance the many centuries of patriarchal language and structures.
All these threads are woven together in me. My sense of the Divine today keeps growing richer, more complex and inclusive. Integrating wisdom and practice from multiple traditions feels congruent for me, feeding my soul and motivating my spiritual activism in the world.
Kathe Schaaf is a founding member of Women of Spirit and Faith, organized in 2010 with the intention of exploring, nurturing and celebrating women’s spiritual leadership. She is one of the editors of Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power, an anthology of women’s wisdom.