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COMMITMENTS : Looking for Faith Over Tuna Melts and Fries

June 19, 1995|JOYCE GABRIEL | STAMFORD ADVOCATE

We were three women sitting down over a sandwich lunch discussing the mysteries of the universe and the need for spirituality.

This may sound profound, but the talk went down well with a tuna melt and fries.

This quest for spirituality seems to be something of a trend in an increasingly secular society.

We three had been raised within organized religion, but seemed to be looking outside it for a path to God or everlasting life or, failing that, just to soul food in the here and now.

We discussed the soul and how every human being must have one. From bestsellers to the most recent thought in psychology, the message is the same: Somewhere between the mind and the heart is the soul, and it needs to be fed and nurtured for humans to be truly happy.

A number of spiritual options were discussed. We talked about astrology and its possible role in people's lives. A childhood friend is now an astrologer and she says there is no contradiction between believing in astrology and believing in God. One must merely assume that God set astrological forces in motion, she says.

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We talked about the gifts of faith and grace, about the simplicity of the faith of those who truly believe in God and live their lives by his tenets.

We talked about whether organized religion was the answer, or whether it, perhaps, raised more questions.

We talked about what we had--and had not--passed along to our children. Not one of us had given our children the same catechism of faith we'd grown up with. I agonized over this, saying that the concepts of heaven and eternal life, of God and all his angels, could be very comforting as one faced the sorrows life can bring, along with the joys. Perhaps, I argued, we need these images from childhood to sustain us.

On the other hand, one of my lunch companions said, perhaps our children will face sorrow and joy better with answers that are not as simple or as rigid as the ones we had grown up with.

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We talked about angels, and about the devil. Just last week, after watching an episode of "The X Files" devoted to the subject, my preteen son asked me whether I believed in demonic possession.

"Of course not," I said firmly, wanting to reassure him, worried that he might not be able to fall asleep with visions of demons dancing in his head.

On the other hand, as another of my lunch companions said, surely if God can exist and if angels can exist so can the devil and demons. A sobering thought.

As we worked our way through the spiritual options and tried to make sense of a path, we reached a starting point of sorts.

"I guess if you believe that all that exists is what we can see, prove and understand by means of using our reason, then the spiritual world just doesn't exist. Once you take that leap of faith, once you say that you do not have all the answers, then the spiritual world becomes acceptable."

We all nodded at that. We all agreed that for years we thought we could understand the nature of the universe by putting labels on it. Now, in midlife, we were questioning those assumptions. All of us agreed that there was a lot more to spirituality than we had once thought.

Having been quick, perhaps, to accept the 1960s notion that God is dead, there is a belated need to resurrect him--or some spiritual force--in our daily lives.

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