Everyone always seems to be so concerned that “Denver has one of the lowest church going populations” and therefore, we must “spring up a bunch of new churches” to “save these poor, unfortunate, lost souls”. It could be true that Denver does have a lot of poor, unfortunate, lost souls, or it could just be true that Denver-ites get their spiritual experiences from other venues.
To me, anytime one reaches a new level of enlightenment counts as ‘spiritual space’, and therefore, holds a more enriched understanding of the world. Of course, there certainly are sub-topics, such as forgiveness, learning to live graciously, serving our community, mending broken relationships, being more selfless (the list of lessons goes on and goes, which is why we have to go to church for our entire lives, and we still probably never encompass all that we could learn about ourselves, and about the world).
Going to church is great and all, and definitely necessary, but my most moving spiritual experiences have been in places where the Earth is so vast, and I am so small, that there must have been a God to create it all. I remember sitting on what was once thought to be the end of the world, the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, watching the seagulls float between the cliffs, the blue-green ocean water rhythmatically slosh against the walls, and the very tiny people, climbing the look out steps. I remember standing in the middle of the Great Sand Dunes this weekend, looking up as the tan sand meets the blue sky, the interspersing of the grass, fighting for water, and the clouds cast a surreal shadow onto the mountains, and I, just stand there, as a small obstacle in Nature’s territory (but never fear, because the wind will find its way around me anyhow). Or, the moments I am stationed at Red Rocks, and as I am surrounded by thousands of people, and I gaze into the Denver Metro area, I am also surrounded by the natural red earth formations.
I remember visiting a Colorado-native in California; it was about 75 degrees outside, and we thought it was perfect weather for a hike. And, I remember walking around this neighborhood, on a weekend, with no other living soul in sight; in Colorado, it is 50 degrees, slightly sunny, a chance of rain, and everyone is outside: mowing, gardening, riding bikes, washing cars, blowing bubbles, bar-be-queing; any excuse Colorado people have to be in the great outdoors, they will take it. The fact that Denver is lacking in churches does not mean Denver-ites are lacking in spiritual space; they just find it other ways.
While I only go to church for a couple hours a week, I would say a majority of my life is devoted to being in a spiritual space. Yoga, hiking, climbing, biking, fishing–to me, those all count as spiritual spaces, because they give me time to reflect, show me of how expansive the world is, and remind me of God’s influence. It is in these spaces that I learned I love conquering obstacles, that I healed from traumatic events, that I appreciated the blessings I have been given in my life. Of course, going to church encourages this as well, but to me, it’s always way more powerful in these other spiritual spaces.
So, to say that Coloradoans aren’t spiritual is unfair; in fact, we are probably the most spiritual.