I've spent a lot of time in my life trying to fit myself into varied spiritual boxes. I was a Presbyterian, then I was a Nazarne, then I was a humanist, then I was a Pagan, then a Buddhist, then a UU, and lastly a progressive Christian. Lately, I have come to realize that there are aspects of all of these identities in my spiritual and religious life at the moment, but none of them can singularly hold me. I've known for a long time that being a Progressive Christian wasn't really enough to describe me, and at many times I've called myself a "Buddheo-Christian" (this term did not originate with me.) But even that isn't really enough - it doesn't reflect the influence of other traditions in my spiritual life.
I was talking with Ruth yesterday, and she has a way of seeing things about me that I sometimes have a hard time seeing. She said that I was simply a contemplative.Somehow, that seemed so straightforward and true. That seems like a container that can fit me.
I was looking at the etymology of "contemplative". It's lingusitically connected to contemplation. Contemplation is from Latin, and includes such meaning as "act of looking at" and "to gaze attentively, observe" and to "to mark out a space for observation". I like that latter meaning - "to mark out a space" - I think of that in terms of both time and intention: to set aside time and effort to observe.
What is the observation? Rather often, it's my mind. But sometimes it's about observing creation - the natural world, and all beings in it.
This also feels like it allows for a more intimate connection between my scientist self, my writer self, and my spiritual self. And it feels like it can explain a lot of what I feel called to do in ways that being a Christian or a Buddhist didn't quite explain to me.