Spiritual but not religious – Resident of Portugal

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Our monthly article seeks to offer open-minded, clarifying, and meaningful answers to readers’ questions about spirituality. Send your questions to the Resident.

Q: What’s the next step?
Dear readers, I have been called to serve a parish in the United States, so we say goodbye to the Algarve for now; although we plan to visit frequently, and hope to definitely come back someday.

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

With this news, I hope I will be allowed to indulge in a few paragraphs of personal reflection.

One of the differences from the Episcopal Church of the United States that I discovered while working for the Church of England is that everyone sees the local priest as “their” vicar, that they consider themselves or not as a practitioner. To me, it is an expression of love and, oh yes, spirituality, which I have found encouraging and meaningful. We have made lifelong friendships, not only among expats of many nationalities, but also among our Portuguese neighbors.

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 make our brains work.

The privilege of living and traveling 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’s not. Here in Portugal, spirituality can grow like bougainvillea – fast, colorful and in all directions. Hopefully, it’s not so thorny.

I certainly enjoyed writing this column, having interesting conversations, and answering tough questions – often or not with a 400 word: “I don’t know, what do you think? I hope you found it meaningful, readable and entertaining at least sometimes. 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 will keep you in our prayers, as we hope you will us. Do well, do good, and come visit! Blessings to all.

Reverend Reid Hamilton
Saint-Vincent church


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