Spirituality Is…

Spirituality Is…

It seems some people get confused by, and sometimes uncomfortable with, the word “spirituality;” and the word is indeed hard to define. The Spiritual Life Team at Easter Lutheran Church spent some time attempting to create a definition on which we could all agree, and in the end decided it is “deepening our relationship with God.” “Relationship” is the key word in the phrase. How do YOU seek to deepen your relationship with God?

Additionally, I’ve come to believe that spirituality is about opening up my heart to the presence of the Triune God in my life. “Heart” is the key word there. It’s about paying attention to what moves me emotionally (positively AND negatively), and reflecting on that from a God perspective, and with God in prayer. Where is God in that movement? What is the emotional reaction telling me? What is God telling me about that lived experience? That requires that I slow down, pay attention, and reflect on what might otherwise feel like ordinary life experiences.

There’s a difference for me between the head and the heart. When I dig into Bible study (which is IMPORTANT to do!), I’m in my head. I’m trying to learn more about God by reading, studying, conversing with others. I try to figure out intellectually what God is saying through the narrative. It’s an intellectual exercise. It’s important, but I don’t find it to be an emotional experience (most of the time). I don’t find it to be a spiritual experience.

This past Sunday, Pastor Paul preached (at Easter by the Lake) about blessing. He told stories of how he’s experienced blessing in Tanzania, and he told stories of other people’s stories of blessing told to him! Some of those stories were the kind that make you shiver all over! It occurs to me that experiencing blessing (whether giving or receiving) is part of deepening one’s relationship with God. Experiencing blessing, and paying attention to how it moves me, deepens my relationship with God.

So spirituality isn’t some new and mystical new age thing. Martin Luther talked a lot about spirituality, and he said it was the way of normal Christian life. He called it the “experience of God.” And isn’t that what we’re all here for: to experience God in our ordinary Christian lives?

God of Love, Help us to deepen our relationship with you through opening ourselves up to experiencing you daily, in the normal, ordinary lives we live. Amen.

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Joy-for Always

Hairdressers hear all kinds of good stuff–I know I’ve been guilty of spilling some myself. The juicy, profound, and sometimes guarded parts have a way of spilling out. If I’m honest- it doesn’t take much for me.  Snap on that nylon apron and spin my chair around-from there it’s a done deal. Thankfully, there are other places where equally authentic dialogue is shared. I’m grateful to be on the receiving end too.

I’ve been a dental hygienist for a dozen or so years now. There is so much about my job I enjoy. Without question the thing I enjoy the most is the unexpected way in which some people-well-spill it. I imagine in part it comes from a place of physical vulnerability -a blinding light, lying flat on your back, having to trust that I know just where all those sharp pointy thingies go. Some pretty awesome conversations arise. Some I’ll never forget.

One such story ~

He was comfortably in his eighties. His face was soft and his cheeks spidery red. His clothes were neat and worn thin from a decade or more of Tide. He inquired about my personal life-asking if I was married and if I had children. I told him that I was, that my kiddos were little and in charge (just three and six years of age at the time).

His smile widened in an instant, as if to imply that I was in the middle of something magical. He urged me to enjoy every second and to find a way to remember as much as possible. It seemed too many of his moments had escaped him.

I asked about his family. He said he had raised four children. He expressed how that period of time felt like three lifetimes ago. He said, “They are all grown of course, and have raised families of their own, some even have grandkids-if you can believe it.” Then, as if realizing it for the very first time he said, “Sometimes when I think back at that time of my life- it was so quick-so-fleeting I wonder if it ever really happened.” . . . and with his awareness, tears filled his eyes.

 “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

James 4:14 (NKJV)

vapor blog

Ever since that touching conversation, each time the “they grow up so fast-like crazy fast” conversation arises, I think about him. I think of this sweet man with equal parts sadness and appreciation. My appreciation comes from him sharing something so intimate with me-in the hope that I might really get it. He hoped that I may fare better than he. My sadness is in that perhaps since the time his children were little, at least three lifetimes ago, he hadn’t experienced true joy.

So now that I’ve blinked for a moment in my own life-it seems that my babies, well . . . are no longer babies at all. My daughter enjoys lifting herself on her tippy toes, increasing her height advantage so that she can easily look down upon her mama. I’ve recently recognized that in a pinch I can wear my son’s shoes-a bit of an epiphany. Yep, it’s happening-my magic is moving forward at an alarming rate. James 4;14 says our life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

I’ve decided to handle this epiphany in a couple of different ways.

  • I’m going to dig deep-to engrain this time into my memory. Etch it in there . . . somehow.

Now this one’s a biggie-and probably most important.

  • God willing my vapor will be as long as a vapor can be, and throughout each life stage-

I will seek Joy.

For this and all things, I will call upon the Lord~

“Heavenly Father, Thank you for this crazy-beautiful life, help me find joy within each passing moment of my precious vapor. Help me to etch in the good stuff and to continue to seek you-always. Amen.”