The Reverend Stephen Avino is a deacon within the Community of Saint George, a jurisdiction within the Liberal Catholic Church – Young Rite. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and received a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies at Chicago Theological Seminary. He works as the Chief Operating Officer and Acting Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and has dedicated his adult life to Interfaith work, including helping to organize the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City and the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto. In 2021, he is helping to organize the Parliament of the World’s Religions for the first time virtually. Learn more at 2021.parliamentoreligions.org.
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In the last year, the world has been in midst of a devastating pandemic. This has caused a loss of life, grief, and separation from those we love. And for many, it means a separation from their faith as religious services and gatherings have been shut down or limited, necessarily, to curb the spread of the virus. This combination of grief and separation has caused an immense amount of spiritual hunger.
In my tradition, the Christian tradition, I find the answer to spiritual hunger in scripture. In Matthew 6:6, Jesus makes it clear that it isn’t necessary to be in the presence of others to connect with the divine. You can “go to your closet and shut the door” to pray. I know this is true of many other traditions as well. The Butsudan in Buddhism, the Khamidana in Shinto, a Jain House Temple, the home altar for Puja in Hinduism, are just some of the many examples of this concept manifesting in the world’s religious and spiritual traditions.
You can connect with spirit by going to this personal sacred space and looking inward. Even before the pandemic, I created a room in my home that is dedicated to prayer and to facilitate that connection with God. This has been tremendously helpful to me in satisfying spiritual hunger in the last year. I realize not everyone can set aside an entire room. But any spot in your home, indoor or outdoor, can be set aside to satisfy spiritual hunger in the same way a kitchen is set aside for physical hunger.
The key is to set aside this spot for spirituality so that when you go near that spot your thoughts are not of the stressors of everyday life but of spirit. You can decorate this space with various objects and spiritual mementos, but it isn’t necessary if you are unable to. All that matters for satisfying spiritual hunger is creating an atmosphere where you can be with yourself and feel a connection with the divine.
And to be clear, this isn’t just something to help in a pandemic lockdown. Many do not have a welcoming place to go to express their spirituality or are not comfortable at their local church or temple, and therefore creating a spot at home can serve as the place to satisfy your spiritual hunger in this case. Every time a new survey is done, the results show more and more people in the United States and around the world consider themselves unaffiliated with any religion, but even those unaffiliated have spiritual hunger and are looking to satisfy it. Even if you do go to church or temple weekly, we all need a place to go to be alone with God (or whatever name you use for this spiritual/divine presence) and ourselves.
I highly recommended finding this place in your home to satisfy your spiritual hunger. It sure has helped me get through the last year.