October 21 seems a lifetime ago. I missed Spirituality Cafe #6 as we were in New Zealand when it took place. We did not hold Spirituality Cafe in December; so last night’s gathering at Cafe Misto was Spirituality Cafe #7.

As is becoming the pattern, I did not know the majority of people in attendance last night. Most participants appeared to be over 50 years old with little or no connection to any formal faith community. The conversation was shared fairly equally around the room.

The question for Spirituality Cafe #7 was, “What blocks do I experience to living in awareness of the spiritual dimension of life?”

At most of our gatherings so far in Spirituality Cafe we have become temporarily bogged down in a discussion of what we mean when we use the word “spirituality.” So, for last night’s discussion I opened by offering a definition.

Partly through this blog, I have come to realize that there are people who consider themselves to be both atheists and at the same time “spiritual” people. So my definition of spirituality for last night’s gathering was as broad as possible.

Spirituality includes anything that helps me open to a deeper more expansive embrace of the mystery and wonder of life.

The definition seemed to be generally acceptable and helpful in focusing our discussion.

Responses to the question last night fell into three general categories:

1. There are significant social obstacles that hinder people in our culture from developing a deeper more expansive embrace of the mystery and wonder of life. Among these obstacles was suggested:

fear of silence

work environments that are antagonistic to spirituality

rigid religious language and narrow doctrines and beliefs


the inescapable tension of holding the reality of suffering and beauty

a scientific mindset that believes in the possibility of explaining everything and discounts any dimension of life beyond the physical plain of existence

a cultural mindset that views spirituality as a taboo subject

media that refuses to take spirituality seriously, or to pay any attention to it at all

materialism and a general “success” orientation – spirituality is not a marketable commodity

time pressures

the fact that people are no longer trained in the skills of spirituality

rampant individualism and the breakdown of community

a prevalence of dualistic thinking

2. The blocks to spirituality are not “out there” in society at large or in the culture; they are in each individual person’s life. We need to look at our own lives and see how we are choosing to ignore or deny the spiritual dimension of life.

3. There are no blocks to spirituality. Everything has the capacity to enable us to open to a deeper awareness of mystery and beauty. The only problem is our unwillingness to accept all of life and allow every aspect of life to open us to the spiritual dimension.

Probably all three answers to the question are correct. There are aspects of the society in which we live that are not conducive to a rich deep awareness of the mysterious beauty and wonder of life.

There are also obstacles within each of us that hinder our ability to live the open expansive life that is the essential basis upon which to build a spiritual life.

It is also true that everything that is a part of life can become an avenue to opening and expanding our awareness of the mystery and beauty that are present in all of life. It is only a matter of seeing more clearly and embracing life as it presents itself in our daily circumstances.

Spirituality Cafe #8 is scheduled for Wednesday February 16 at Cafe Misto starting at 7:30 p.m. The question selected last night for consideration at our next gathering was “How do I reconnect with wholeness?”

Next month’s question is the natural follow-up question to last night’s gathering. It will be interesting to see the diverse ways people follow in an attempt to open more deeply to the beauty and mystery of life.