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Now I am Vegan

March 31, 2013

The spiritual life is a surprising journey. It all takes place somewhere inside of you, involving your mind and heart and something we might call ‘soul’ except that we can’t really define what we mean by that. It is fed by the ideas that come at you and the people you meet and all the experiences that touch you in some way. Like a stew, it simmers away in the background of your daily living quite often, hardly noticed, and then there comes a time when it is ready for the next stage – the time when you notice it, see it, listen to it bubbling and smell its aromas. You visit the pot of it, adding this and that and tasting it, and, at last, intentionally lavish some care upon it.

Mine began as a child of 7 reading about Jesus in a book of stories that were a christening gift and led me in my early adult years to join the Church, thinking that there I would find like-minded people with whom to share my soul’s journey. It was a longing for a more Christ- like life, and help to achieve that. Alas,  it was not to be and I left in sadness and deep disillusion many years later, rather wounded by my many disappointments and frustrations with the people of Jesus.

From there I threw myself into the environmental movement, waking up to the fact that humans were trashing the planet and wanting to do something about it. Around the same time I read Peter Singer’s book ‘Animal Liberation’ and was immediately affected by its stark truths about our whole attitude to the other animals who share this earth with us. I became vegetarian.

Through many changing scenes of life I dropped in and out of all these inner paths and  lost sight of the ball a few times. Not attending church or any other sort of spiritual community for about 15 years had an effect on me that I never noticed while I was just going about my daily life.  It was insidious but the absence of a regular dose of some kind of challenging and inspirational message had negative efffects on all my relationships and on my reactions to stressful situations. I had married a man who had no religious faith and was not vegetarian,  and both these things rubbed the edges off my own connection to my inner life, made me less of myself, somehow. But it has taken years for me to recognise this.

I discovered New Unity by accident one morning as I was browsing the internet and visiting atheist websites. I was not looking for another ‘church.’ But as I read about this radically inclusive community of faith in North London, things inside me, long asleep. woke up. I was amazed by what I was reading, excited by the knowledge that this community was in London, and reachable for me, and that it seemed to embody all that I had thought Christianity was, so long ago, and had found, to my sorrow, that it wasn’t.

In May 2011 I walked through the door of Unity church in Upper St, Islington, for the first time, and my ‘journey towards wholeness’ finally began in earnest. It was like all the bits of my life up until then had been waiting, like a dormant seed, for the right light and warmth and soil conditions, to burst forth. And the effect on me has been a complete overhaul of my life. I now have resources within me for coping with all that life throws at me so much better than I ever did in the past. I am so much more grateful for the little things and so much more joyful about everything in my life. I am learning that the outward things need not spoil the inner peace and joy – it is the attitude that is everything.

And now I am vegan. Without New Unity, and, through it, connection to Unitarian Universalists on line, the seed that Peter Singer planted in my soul in the late 1970s, would probably not now be flourishing. Veganism just makes sense of everything that I am and is so much the right path for me. I also happen to think, of course,  that it is the right path for every spiritual person who lives in the world as it now is. Compassion, justice, non-violence, peace – all these values that  I have prized highly all my life are in this ethic. Walking gently on the earth, respect for the wild places, respect for life, concern for world hunger, awareness of our connectedness, the sacredness of  all that is. All of it is within the ethic we call veganism. So now I am vegan. Namaste.

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