I don’t know if I have gone off at a tangent or missed a point or merely revisited and rehearsed age-old musings but I have enjoyed reflecting on feral spirituality...
The word ‘feral’ to me is akin to ‘wild’ and I think many people could associate ‘wild’ with negative words such as disorderly, chaotic, unmanaged or a state of raw nature. However nature is far from wild and disorderly! Ecosystems are (often*) held in balance by negative feedbacks; the living and non-living components of the ecosystem respond to each other and adapt to each other. Therefore in the context of an ecosystem analogy I would interpret feral spirituality/wild spirituality as a natural, intuitive and aware response to the world around us, i.e. not at all a disordered approach to religious and spiritual life. It requires confidence to respond to the world around us without the checks and balances of organized and prescribed doctrines, liturgies and creeds**.
As a Quaker feral spirituality doesn’t feel an alien concept to me. Since becoming a Quaker I feel have taken a greater personal responsibility towards understanding (my) spirituality than I ever have before. I am currently excited by how Buddhism is enriching my Quakerism. For fear of the ecosystem analogy being the tail that wags to dog, I would say that Christianity is the soil and habitat in which I am rooted but I am adapting and thriving as I respond to new insights***. Would I have been on this exciting journey if I hadn’t gone a bit wild? Is this feral spirituality?
PS: I have got a whole new train of thoughts now surrounding the beauty of formal gardens, their purpose and the joy they bring (managed spirituality/religion) and the difference between these gardens and the beauty, purpose and joy of unmanaged spaces (feral spirituality). Surely we need both these places in our spiritual lives?
*Ecosystems can reach thresholds, tipping points and there are also positive feedbacks. How might this relate to feral spirituality? Are there any dangers in feral spirituality?
**How can we develop an intuitive response? Mindful awareness? Loving kindness meditation? Silent waiting? Prayer? Spending time with the people, or doing the things, or being in the places where we feel close to God?
***’Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life’, Quaker Faith and Practice (5th Edition) paragraph 1.02.
21/9/2022 11:11:43 am
Dear Becky, your post strikes a chord with me on two accounts. Firstly, since retirement from full time stipendary ministry, and now living in a different part of the UK, I have been fairly regularly attending (with my wife) the Quaker Meeting in the village. Spiritually, I have benefitted from the freedom from liturgy and the simplicity of gathered silence in which the God Presence can be felt and heard as an inner voice. Secondly, Buddhist spirituality has been significant in my own Christian journey. I don't know if you've come across a book by Paul F Knitter entitled 'Without Buddha I could not be a Christian'? Knitter seeks to demonstrate how Buddhist perspectives can inspire a more person-centred and socially engaged understanding of the Christian faith. Thanks for your post.
28/9/2022 08:33:52 pm
I too am finding a wealth of ideas and comfort in my Quaker resources and community. There is a breadth and freedom of thought and a very real sense of the Spirit's presence.
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