Four Ways Spirituality is an Organism

The Power of Sacred Space

One of the things I love about coaching is the opportunity to give people valuable space in time to think deeply about themselves and their lives, to reflect and evaluate and consider how life is going for them.  I find in every conversation that the person, given this intentional time for themselves, relishes the conversation and deeply values the privilege of having their lives witnessed by a trusted other.  After all, how often do we experience the affirmation and validation of being witnessed by someone else in a spirit of honor, respect, and caring?

I find this to be greatly true for myself.  For the last sixteen years I’ve had regular (almost weekly) conversations with my prayer partner and wonderful friend Paul.  In every phone call or at times in person when see each other, we listen deeply to each other as each one talks about what matters most these days.  There’s incredible empowerment in having someone who cares bear witness to your life and express support, acceptance, and validation, including questions that stretch each other and clarify the struggles, questions, and life issues we’re facing.

Life is Dynamic

Life is a dynamic organism.  It’s not static or staid or one dimensional.  Life grows, morphs, evolves, changes, moves, stretches, transitions in multiple ways and directions.  As people we change and grow and develop.

Spirituality is no different.  In a book I’m reading, that’s exactly the way the author, Dr. David Benner, describes it:

“Any genuinely soulful or healthy spirituality cannot simply be adopted from your family or acquired from your community or culture. It must arise as a personal response to your deepest longings and help you make sense of your actual life experiences. It will, therefore, be dynamic–evolving and changing. To turn it into something rigid and fixed is always to render it soulless, for that which is no longer evolving is either devolving or dead.”  Soulful Spirituality, pp. 76-77.

Spirituality is an Organism that Living or Dying

Spirituality is an organism, too.  It’s dynamic and evolving.  That’s because spirituality is at the heart of what it means to be fully human (as Christian theology states, we’re made in the image of God–so to center in that image is to step fully into our God-created humanity).  And since we humans change and morph and grow and evolve, so must our spirituality.

Which is why I’m more and more recognizing the absolute importance of carving out intentional time to do reflecting and evaluating of our spiritual lives and journeys.  It’s far to easy for people to simply float along, staying in a default mode of habit and routine, never thinking about how it’s going or where it needs to go or even how to grow more deeply and spiritually.

The Pitfall of Autopilot

For those of us who are attached to a regular church experience, this is a particular pitfall.  We never really evaluate our spiritual lives because we think that simply going to church as often as we do is enough.  We might engage in a few spiritual practices like prayer (at least at meals or bedtime).  But we never stop to reflect and evaluate:  am I growing more fully human, becoming a person of greater love and compassion? Am I showing up in my life with more confidence and contentment?  Am I manifesting more regularly the attributes of the highest and strongest form of life (Christian theology:  the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control)?  What is working in our spiritual lives and what isn’t?  What is meaningful and empowering us to live with greater purpose, and what isn’t?  Where are we in the stages of faith and spirituality?  What kind of spirituality fits us in the stage we’re in?  How can we continue developing into the higher stages of spiritual growth?

As Dr. Benner reminds us, we can’t simply inherit our spirituality from our family or community or culture.  It doesn’t work that way!  The very nature of the spiritual life is that it comes from the deepest place inside each of us where God meets us and whispers to us and speaks truth to our souls and hearts.  If we’re simply too busy and preoccupied to listen or hear those whispers, then we too easily remain on autopilot, thinking that we’re doing all we need to do.

But truth is, we are either evolving and growing and transforming spiritually, or we’re dying, and we’ll ultimately pay the price in lack of meaningful living.

Just like plants have to be watered and nurtured to keep growing or they wilt and eventually die, so does our spiritual and personal life.  Development and growth must be carefully nurtured and intentionally paid attention to.

Spiritual Retreats

This is why I feel so passionate about offering spiritual retreats–a day and a half of sacred space and time for people to reflect upon and think deeply about life and the spiritual journey.  There’s no substitute for it.

Here’s a short video I made today about what I’m doing and why I’m doing this:

I want to invite you to seriously consider this opportunity.  Two locations:  Walla Walla, WA (March 22-23) and San Francisco, CA (April 5-6).  Click on either name to go to the web site for more details and registration information, including the significant Early Bird discounts available until March 10.