Spiritual but not religious

Spiritual but not religious

Our monthly feature seeks to offer open-minded, clarifying, and meaningful responses to readers’ questions about spirituality. Send your questions to The Resident.

Q: What’s next?
Dear readers, I have been called to serve a parish back in the US, so we’re saying farewell to the Algarve for now; though we expect to visit frequently, and hope to return permanently one day.

Priests come and go, but the church carries on. My friend and colleague Fr Rob Kean remains as the senior chaplain of St Vincent’s. Our three congregations, at Palhagueira, Boliqueime, and Praia da Luz, are here to serve you. St Vincent’s will continue to have two priests offering worship services in English and providing pastoral care and community for every resident, immigrant, or visitor here in the Algarve.

With that news, I hope I may be permitted to indulge in a few paragraphs of personal reflection.

One of the differences from the Episcopal Church in the US that I’ve discovered in working for the Church of England is that everyone considers the local priest “their” vicar, whether or not they consider themselves churchgoers. To me this is an expression of love and, oh yes, spirituality, that I’ve found supportive and meaningful. We’ve made lifelong friends, not only among expats of many nationalities, but our Portuguese neighbours as well.

Living and working in Portugal has been one of the great experiences of my life. Learning even a little bit of a new language helps us keep our brains working.

The privilege of living and travelling abroad teaches us to be flexible and compassionate. And as I tell my American friends, the weather here is perfect all the time, even when it isn’t. Here in Portugal one’s spirituality can grow like the bougainvillea – quickly, colourfully, and in every direction. Hopefully, not as spiky.

I’ve certainly enjoyed writing this column, having interesting conversations and responding to hard questions – often as not with a 400 word, “I don’t know, what do you think?” I hope you’ve found it meaningful, readable, and entertaining at least at times. My thanks to the Resident for the generous hospitality of this space.

Deb and I are heading to northeast Georgia, to St Andrew’s, Hartwell/St Alban’s Elberton, in the Diocese of Atlanta where I was ordained 23 years ago. We’ll be keeping you in our prayers, as we hope you will us. Be well, do good, and come visit! Blessings to all.

The Rev. Reid Hamilton
St Vincent’s Church