Today I would like to share a bit of my faith journey with you. It’s about spirituality and a hula hoop.
Along with working at St Margaret’s I also teach world religion retreats to High School students. We do an interactive day and I talk about spirituality. Because I think spirituality is important. What is spirituality? We often here the term “I’m spiritual but not religious.” But what does that really mean?
Spirituality is our connection to the presence of the divine within us, which awakens our sense of connectedness to our self, to others, to God/the Divine and to creation/the natural world.
As a working definition, we can think about religion as a set of practices, stories, rituals and symbols that express our spiritual life and our theology (how we understand our relationship with God and God’s relationship to us). Formal religion is a religion that is practiced in a structured, recognized, recognizable way by a culture, race, nation or significant population that has endured over time and place. Within formal religion there may also be an aspect of accountability or connectedness to a wider community.
I ask the students “What do you do that connects you to yourself, to our community, to creation and to God?”
And that might not look like what we think of as “spiritual or religious” things. What practices do you do to feel that connection?
Maybe listening to music is a way you connect to yourself.
Maybe you love sports and playing on a team makes you feel connected to your community.
Maybe you love nature and you feel connected to creation when walking by the lake.
Maybe you are nourished by church and you feel connected when you come here.
For me hula hooping is one of my spiritual practices.
About five years ago I was working in a church and was leaving the church late one night. I heard music coming from one of the rooms so I peaked my head in and saw 20 women age 50-80 (there were grandmas in this class!) hula hooping. It was a fitness class and I thought “that looks like so much fun!” So I joined. I was the youngest person by about 30 years and it was fun. I also had friends who were into circus arts. I knew there were more ways you could move and dance with a hula hoop.
At this time I was really struggling with depression in my life.
My family is blessed that we have a cottage. In the spring I decided to go up there for a week by myself to try and heal. And I brought my hula hoop. Every afternoon I would put on my music and dance with my hula hoop. And two amazing things happened.
The more I spun around in my hoop, the more centred and grounded I felt. The more peace I felt. It became a moving meditation. What do you do that brings you peace in your life? What brings you peace can be a spiritual practice.
I also love dancing. So the more I danced with my hoop, the more joy I felt. And the more joy I felt, the less pain and depression I felt. What brings you joy? What brings you joy can be a spiritual practice.
So this difficult time in my life was also a huge gift because I found hoop dance. Every time I step into my hoop I connect with myself and with God. It really didn’t feel like God was present during that time. We can feel that way when we are in pain, we feel God has abandoned us. It’s like the beautiful story where a man looks back on his life and sees two sets of footprints, his and Gods. But sometimes there is only one set of footprints when he was going through the most difficult times in his life. So he asks God- Why weren’t you walking with me when I needed you the most? And God tells him: “Those were my footprints and I was lifting you up.” When I look back on that time in my life I feel that God was with me in my hoop, lifting me up. Every time I stepped into my hoop, this sacred circle, God was there.
So what spiritual practices can you commit to this year? What practices give you joy and peace?
I would like to share a hoop dance that I created for CLAY this summer. You’ll hear me at the beginning and the other voice is my mom. I talked to my mom about worth and her faith and then included her words in the song I am dancing to. I hope you enjoy.