“Religious divides are fuelled by fear and misunderstanding and rarely reflect the reality of those who live with a sincere faith. It is time to dwell on the positives and recognise that people who seek to live peacefully with virtue, discipline and self knowledge can be role models within our communities.”
North Pembrokeshire, from St Davids to St Dogmaels, has a long, deep and rich spiritual heritage, from prehistoric times to the Christian era, and it draws people from all manner of backgrounds. Many spiritual seekers today have little or no experience of traditional religion, finding that it provides neither a context nor a language which is helpful or meaningful on their journey. Others are looking for new ways to engage with the ancient wisdom of the past, while still others are directing their spiritual energies into justice and peace or environmental initiatives, the creation of new communities, or the arts.
This new spiritual movement has emerged over the last 50 years, characterised by exploration, experimentation, new ideas and many old ones recycled. Coupled with the explosion of the information age, it has developed an increasing influence in western culture in recent years, evidenced by the huge growth of the ‘mind, body, spirit’ sections in every bookshop. Complementary therapies are often seen as part of it, as are a whole raft of spiritual practices. Many are simply seeking for more in life, spiritually yearning for the best, highest and purest, for a forward step in consciousness for all humanity. This movement is now coming of age and flies under the banner of ‘Holistic’ or ‘Contemporary’ Spirituality.
There is a great deal of mistrust and misunderstanding between the holistic spirituality movement and Christianity. The ground-breaking report from Inter-Faith Wales recognises Holistic Spirituality as a new and influential movement in our society:
“Holistic Spirituality is the name given to the growing contemporary movement of people who do not feel tied to one of the traditional faith communities but take a more generalised approach to spirituality. They respect and welcome diversity of belief, and respect the core values and inspiration of the traditional faiths. They also recognise the intimate interdependence between spirituality, environmentalism, citizenship and healthcare.”
In response to this, a group of us have decided to step out and start some interfaith work, which we have called Common Ground. As people explore and deepen their spiritual experience, practice and commitment, many of them are looking for information and for companionship. They seek access to new thinking, new ways of seeing, new experiences and for new opportunities to connect with fellow travellers – kindred spirits – embarking on a similar quest. It is these people, primarily, whom Common Ground hopes to link together in a spirit of enquiry and dialogue.
This is an interfaith initiative giving an opportunity to communicate some of the values and riches of Christian spirituality with care and respect for others viewpoints. Its function is to provide opportunities for sharing, growth, discussion and understanding, building mutual trust and awareness. Find out more at www.commongroundpembs.org.uk