Thursday, 1 May 2014

Sacred Pathways

Tying into to what I wrote the other day about liturgy, I heard a radio broadcast about "Sacred Pathways," or the different ways in which we individually worship.  It was eye-opening to first identify my own pathways, but also to realize that just as strongly as I walk mine, others walk theirs, and each is as valid and effective.

For reference, here is what Gary Thomas wrote about the nine pathways he identified: 

Nine Sacred PathwaysSpiritual temperaments that God creates in human beings so that we can connect and worship Him in unique ways. (Based on Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary Thomas © 1996)
1. Naturalists — love God best outdoors. These people worship in the midst of God’s creation. They celebrate His majesty and discover spiritual truths through nature2. Sensates — love God through their senses. These people worship through sensual experiences — sights (like art), sounds (music), smells, and more3. Traditionalists — love God through religious ritual and symbols. These people worship through traditions and sacraments of the Church. They believe structure, repetition, and rigidity, like weekly liturgy, leads to deeper understanding of God and faith4. Ascetics — love God in solitude and simplicity. These people worship through prayer and quiet time, and the absence of all outside noise and distraction5. Activists — love God through confrontation, fighting for godly principles and values. They worship through their dedication to and participation in God’s truth about social and evangelistic causes6. Caregivers — love God by serving others, and worship by giving of themselves. They may nurse the sick and disabled, “adopt” a prisoner, donate time at a shelter, etc.7. Enthusiasts — love God through mystery and celebration. These people worship with outward displays of passion and enthusiasm. They love God with gusto!8. Contemplatives — love God through adoration. These people worship by their attentiveness, deep love, and intimacy. They have an active prayer life9. Intellectuals — love God with their mind and their hearts are opened up to a new attentiveness when they understand something new about God. These people worship through intense study, apologetics, and intellectual pursuits of their faith.
Please note:We are a mixture — we rarely rely on a single approach or temperament to connect with God every time; we are more likely to be a mix of severalTemperaments change — spiritual temperaments evolve over time, much like couples love each other differently over the course of a marriage. We are likely to find different ways to connect with God during our lifetime

A few weeks back a church in the next city burned to the ground.  The news coverage showed beautiful pictures of the church with a Catholic history.  The fire actually started from a candle lit for a prayer.  There were also paintings, statues, and other objects used in rituals and worship.  Having grown up in a more minimalist setting, I never understood such repetition in honouring God.  I think I even condemned it a little in my heart, brushing it off as "vain repetitions" and relics bordering on idol worship.  As I opened my mind up to Gary Thomas' concepts, I realized how narrow my view was.

Of course, knowledge will get dusty and rust without use and application.  I find this all helpful not just in understanding those with whom I attend church, but also within my own family.  I can't expect that my husband and all my children will all experience God in the same way I do.  Knowing the different sacred pathways to God will help me help my children worship in their most effective manner.

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