This statistic changed the way I live my life:

According to the most recent Pew report on religious life in America, the fastest growing religious affiliation in the United States is not having one. Currently, the non-religious make up 16% of our population, that number is growing, especially along the coasts and with young people.

This is a personal one for me because at 18 I very consciously dropped a religious affiliation that had shaped my life. The leaving was painful in a few ways, but it piqued a personal challenge to build a spiritual practice outside the boundary of a religion or traditional notion of god. This was not always an easy personal challenge for me to take on, especially because after a somewhat successful academic and professional career, I felt embarrassed about pursuing a topic that others might consider “hippy dippy,” “new agey” or just plain, no quotes needed, weird. Consequently, I cultivated a kind of “closeted” spiritual life.

But it was this statistic, combined with alarming statistics about the increasing rates of depression (at younger and younger ages) in the United States, that’s given me the sense of purpose I’ve needed to bring this personal challenge out of the closet in a bigger way.

Right now that commitment is calling me to connect with others who share this kind of question. My hope is that by sharing some of what feels real and true to me, others might be inclined to do the same, and that together, we can authentically reclaim some of what is joyful, hopeful, mysterious and universal about being human.

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