For spirituality to develop a personal relationship with a Higher Power must be experienced.
Lisa Miller points out her book, The Spiritual Child, which we have been reading and discussing in August and September, 2020, that Kendler’s study did not meaningfully find a correlation between spirituality and one specific religious denomination, something that UUs have known for centuries. Francis David, the Unitarian pioneer said in the sixteenth century that we need not think alike to love alike.
Lisa Miller writes on pages 8-9,
For adolescents who develop a strong spiritual compass outside of a religious tradition, as well as adolescents who develop a strong spiritual compass within a religious tradition, spirituality manifests itself as an inner awareness or a sense of relationship with a higher power. When developed from within a religious tradition, the process is just as personal and takes as much initiative and hard work as when it’s developed without a religious tradition. Even when an adolescent benefits from the guidance of a religious tradition, the significance of specific teachings must still be derived at a deep personal level for the benefits to be felt. Memorizing creed without personal investment is not enough. For some adolescents, questioning spiritual assumptions is crucial to ownership. Finally, other adolescents develop personal spirituality through an intense and often prayerful deepening of faith. In all cases, what makes spirituality meaningful is personal choice and ownership.
So, while organized religions can clearly play a role in spiritual development, the primary engine that drives natural spirituality is innate, biological, and developmental: first an inborn faculty for transcendent connection, then a developmental impetus to make it our own, and the resulting deep personal relationship with the transcendent through nature, God, or the universal force.
Miller, Dr. Lisa. The Spiritual Child (pp. 8-9). St. Martin's Publishing Group.
Understanding this phenomenon, a good parent considers how this experienced relationship with a Higher Power can be nurtured?
First it must be named.
Second, the child’s experiences with their Higher Power must be validated.
Third, spiritual practices such as prayer, worship, daily life review can be discussed, encouraged, and coached.
Fourth, listening to the young person describe their experience with these practices contributes to reflection and adjustment.
Fifth, the parent’s own spiritual life is enhanced by sharing experiences with one’s child.
We will be post articles for The Spiritual Child more frequently during September in an attempt to complete our discussion by the end of September, 2020. Join our Spiritual book discussion group.