In times of quiet contemplation, like a morning cup of coffee, there may arise from within, a calmness, or a sense of clarity or peace. During or after a morning meditation, in the shower, the commute to work, sitting on a park bench, looking out a window, or staring at a device without purpose, it is possible to connect to something within and around us as real and as invisible as air, particles of light, waves of sound, and the inner workings of millions of automatics processes occurring in our bodies every second. This momentary awareness could be called “re-ligio”. What does this mean?
Years ago I directed a program teaching medical residents in internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, and ob/gyn programs around New York City on alcohol and substance use disorders. The program consisted of 5 days of immersion in didactic and experiential teaching processes inclusive of lectures from leaders in the field of addiction medicine, psychology and spirituality as well as attendance in group therapy session, treatment programming and mutual aid support groups with patients undergoing residential and outpatient treatment. One of the lectures was on spirituality and addiction given by a priest from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The lecture always started with breaking down the word ‘religion’, from the latin “re” or “again” and “ligare” bond or connect.
In recovery circles it is often said that religion is for those afraid to go to hell and spirituality is for those who’ve been there. In fact, many in AA go to some length, as did the co-founder Bill Wilson, to distinguish religion from spirituality. Perhaps the distinction is unnecessary when traced to the essence of religion. To bond again, to connect again, to oneself, to others, to the environment, to a higher power. Everything is connected. This is important to re-member.