Spiritual Not Religious

I sometimes worry I cross the line. I like my lines bold, thick, and clear. I identified as agnostic at about 8 years old as a child in a devout Southern Baptist family and community. I pretended to be believe, to have faith like my family and friends until moving away and going to college. So embracing my identity as an agnostic was hard fought and one that I rigidly and with dogged determination, held to.

I was not going to be one of those agnostics referred to in We Agnostics Chapter 4 with a dramatic ‘see the light, conversion story’ … “In this book you will read the experience of a man who thought that he was atheist … His change of heart was dramatic, convincing and moving…”

Sober, I have allowed myself to embrace the wonder of mystery about me. I hesitate to use words like mystical or mythical because of typical connotations I associate with my religion. Yet there is something remarkably wondrous that I find when I meditate, when I look outside of my window, when I walk in the woods, and dare I say when I look within. “.. 

To elevate the mystical above the rational would be to fall towards the extreme of theism, which is just as short-sighted as getting so blinkered by materialism that we fail to see the incredible wonder in our everyday experience (a dull, unimaginative and uninspired state of mind that Ken Wilber calls “Flatland”). Words such as: sacred, divine, mystical, magical, show up unbeckoned in my writing. For lack of better words I let them hold their place for anyone reading to interpret as they will.

Words have power and yet, powerfully, words are woefully inadequate at times. I feel something when I reflect and write, I know that for me that is not god (or any other deity). It is however a feeling of hope, of wonder and of awe. My more theistic friends would feel best calling me spiritual, and I suspect that some still hope for my conversion. I’m just happy to feel again. 

Spiritual not Religious 


The rise and fall
Of my chest filling
And emptying 
With each breath
The gentle ebb
And the flow
The pulse of life
An ever-present 
Refuge an interlude
Within these moments
Of my ordinary 
Remarkable life


I touch the earth
Sacred ground
Beneath my feet
I feel the hum
And the thrum
Ancient songs 
Sung across time
Telling me stories
I yearn to hear


Echoes of being
These they emerge
From the heart
Of the ancient wood
Born by a gentle breeze
Rustling brittle oak leaves
Clinging to trees
Solace for the lonely
Soothing the suffering
Of restless souls
Emerging from the trance
Of winter’s dark night


Have you heard the dawn
Greeting the world anew
Singing its ethereal song
Sung when morn is young
Newly born untethered 
From the worry of tomorrow 
Unshackled from shame
Of too too many to count
Lost but not forgotten yesterdays 
Songs sung in the mists


About the Author

Robert B. is a sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.

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Anthony K
Anthony K
1 year ago

Great stuff Robert.

Andrea H
Andrea H
1 year ago

Dichotomies are of our own making. I no longer see distinctions between natural and supernatural, spiritual and material, just an ever-expanding view of what natural might encompass as we let down our barriers to the ineffable.