The second camp of spirituality that I mentioned a few days ago is the group that views spirituality as something that happens when we’re appropriately isolated. It is private, above all else. No other person may inquire about it nor will I mention what happens there. It tends to be this view comes with certain rules about what happens in the private space, namely, scripture reading and prayer, and they must be done for a long time or else you’re wasting your time. (As a youngster I was given the mantra, “15 minutes a day…No way! Gotta have more to be hardcore.” In other words, 15 minutes or less of spiritual discipline may as well be zero.)
The danger in this view is that we become disconnected from the fact that all spirituality is, first and foremost, communal. Spirituality comes from God’s spirit and it comes upon the whole group of God’s people, and individuals benefit from that, but spirituality is not primarily about personal, private experience. If we ignore the communal aspect of spirituality, we gain little from spiritual privacy- it becomes more like spiritual isolation. Our spirituality, as individuals, is both led and informed by what has first come upon the group.
The benefit to what this view emphasizes is the fact that spirituality is truly, deeply personal. We would be unwise to ignore that or to treat that as unimportant simply because we believe that the community does take precedence over the individual. We can prioritize both the community and the individual, we do not have to choose. This is a demonstration of an order of events as much as it is anything else.
The group’s spirituality leads to the individual’s.