By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
If we follow the guideline that things spiritual refer to matters of "the soul especially as acted upon by God" (Oxford Dictionary), then our spirituality is our way of being ourselves in God's world. Our character, personality, thoughts, actions, hopes and dreams are shaped by the human experience of life as one that involves more than the five senses. Most people acknowledge the presence of a spiritual reality which requires some wrestling with questions to do with the meaning of life, the inevitability of death, the existence of evil, and the presence (or seeming absence) of God. I would venture to say that it is the capacity to be consciously spiritual that separates us from the rest of creation.
When we cast our glance to encompass the expanse of beautiful islands flanked by emerald seas, we in the Caribbean cannot help but feel that we indeed are one of the precious "jewels" in God's crown. In the midst of such beauty, our spirituality as a people needs to be saturated with gratitude, to say the least.
Within our region, there would appear to be a mixture of spiritual influences that practically reflect the total range of spiritual paths available on the face of the earth. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Rastafarians work side by side in several of our islands along with those who practice voodoo, obeah and other forms of black and white magic. Persons of mixed parentage may find themselves blending one or more strands of the family's spiritual genes, while others may seek to make a definite choice and faithfully follow one particular path.
A Caribbean spirituality, as a general term, needs to include this diversity of faith responses even as we remember those who consider themselves following amoral and unspiritual lifestyles altogether, and those believing that there is no God at all, no need for any religious institutions, personal accountability, sacrificial service or spiritual principles of any kind.
Caribbean Christian spirituality
We, who confess to be Christians by word and who seek to live a life pleasing to God, are in a similar world to that of the early Church. A trip to the lands of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) reveals that persons of many faiths have occupied the same holy places at different times from then until now. Modern Jerusalem is a most visible example of the presence of persons of differing faiths. The intertwining of politics and religion has made conflict seem inevitable.
Our challenge is to be far more committed and more disciplined in our living out of God's Good News as we understand its meaning for ourselves in our generation. Since we are among many persons travelling the road of spirituality, we need to be quite clear in our own minds what our christian path entails, and be sure in our own hearts that we want to be credible witnesses. More damage is suffered in the church in this part of God's vineyard by questionable moral practices and irresponsible neglect of spiritual gifts by Christians, than damage sustained by hurricanes.
If we say that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and Our Lord, and yet there is no visible or internal difference between us and other persons, how is the name of Jesus to be glorified? Imagine that Caribbean Spirituality is like a tapestry with many colours, how obvious will our presence be, and how beneficial the spiritual blessings that we are intended to bring, if we will not take our role seriously?
In order to grow to full Christian maturity, there needs to be a disciplined approach to living a christian lifestyle. Our Christian spirituality is either diluted or made more concentrated by our attitude and approach to worship, prayer, study of Scripture, ministry, fellowship and witness. The more we surrender ourselves to the Lord as a deliberate and daily desire to "die to self", the more the Holy Spirit will be in a position to transform us gradually into a more recognisable likeness to Christ.
Our rules of life may vary in the length of time and postures for prayer, but "when all is said and done" the product needs to be the fruit of the Spirit evidenced in daily living and personal and communal relationships, and the gifts of the Spirit placed at the full disposal of the Church for ministry.
• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at email@example.com.