Interests in Spirituality

Encountering the Divine

Welcome!

Welcome to Interests in Spirituality: Encountering the Divine. This website centers on the topic of spirituality, particularly, on its relation to education and specifically, in the early childhood years. Here you will find a variety of links, articles, papers, reflections, references, and information about conferences and coming events all around spirituality and spiritual matters. The primary interest is on academic and research findings, but the occasional personal experience is also woven in.

If you have any feedback, comments, suggestions, or contributions please contact me at drjenmata@gmail.com I will be happy to address your concerns or questions.

Definitions of Spirituality by Jennifer Mata (Feb, 2006)

"Why is it that we know 'spirituality' when we meet it, but can't define it? Why do our explanations fail to satisfy?" Barryman (2001, p. 9)

Spirituality is not an easy term to define. Some define it along the baseline of religion, others view it as separate and independent of religious beliefs, but still understand spirituality as a connection to a greater source, an otherness that goes beyond our tangible material limitations.

Miller (2000) explains that for her "above all, spirituality is an intimate connection to God" (p. 40) But not all authors agree with the notion of God, yet they tend to see spirituality as a universal human characteristic. Elkins (1998) explains that "spirituality is a universal human phenomenon found in all cultures and in every age; it is not the exclusive possession of any religious group" (p. 5).

Going back to this notion of spirituality as "otherness", Hart (2003) explains that "spiritual refers to an intimate and direct influence of the divine in our lives" (p. 8). Bosacki (2001) agrees that the term spirituality deals with "connections and relations to ourselves, others and the world around us. It refers to both a sense of inferiority or an inner reality and a sense of being connected beyond one's own self, connected to something 'greater'" (p. 157). Schoonmaker (2006, in a personal communication) explains that to her and from a faith tradition, spirituality is the "otherness that connects us to the universe".

Some authors view spirituality as a combinations of otherness and human nature. DeMarco (2000, as cited in Stutts and Schloemann, 2002) defines spirituality as "the relationship between the self and a higher power that is dynamic, interpretive, rational, and integral part of human life" (p. 26). Champagne (2001) also agrees that "spirituality cannot be dissociated either from the human or from what is beyond the human, in transcend and in immanence" (p. 83).

Spirituality, can thus be understood as the connection humans have with divinity, a connection that originates in a human trait, goes beyond the individual to tap into the essence of life and provides humans with a greater consciousness and understanding of being.

Definition of Spirituality 

My most recent definition of Spirituality, the one that inspires and guides the work I have completed in the past 6-7 years. 

“Spirituality is an innate human characteristic, a potential we are all born with, which allows us to connect with something beyond us (transcendence or the divine), feel part of the greater universe, and be connected to otherness. Spirituality encompasses the individual capacity and the essence of life, providing humans with a window to greater consciousness and more profound understanding of being, meaning, and purpose.” (Mata, 2015, p. 18)

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