Sunday, January 23, 2011

All Within Spirit

“I neglect God and his Angels, for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door.” (John Donne)

I have been a “task” person all of my life. Long working days, juggling multiple tasks concurrently, deeply focused, committed to completion. “Doing things” has easily consumed my attention, my energy, my time.

Unfortunately, for many of us “spiritual time” is not one of our “tasks.” We may know that we need to spend time in spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, reflection, discussion, ritual, journaling, or just walking quietly within nature’s beauty. But it is not specified as a task to be checked off, a responsibility promised to others, a time deadline to be met. We usually say that when we get some “spare time” we will go off and give our spiritual practice its few moments, typically on our Sabbath day. We promise to fit it in where we can “tomorrow.” But most often tomorrow never becomes “today.”

What we overlook is that we continually separate our spiritual practice from the other items on our daily to-do list, rather than envelop those to-dos within our spirituality. We see those other tasks as obligations to fulfill, things to do, routine mundaneness that we just “do.” Yet in fact those things we do are a significant expression of who we are, who we have chosen to be. What we do, and How we do it, demonstrate to ourselves and others what we have become, how we have developed, the path we have chosen. As such, they express our current being, our spiritual self as well as our human self. Everything we do is an expression of ourselves. The question is – what does our daily life say about our spirituality and spiritual expression?

All our daily tasks can be done as ends unto themselves, devoid of life and spirit. Or they can be done infused with our sense of spiritual self; as actualizations of our beliefs and character; as free expression of the breadth of who we are in our souls; as a vehicle for God’s presence in, and passage through, us. Every interaction with the people we encounter is a challenge and opportunity to fulfill our true beliefs about humankind and our place in it. Do we show ugliness and separation to others, or extend joy and open embrace to them? Everything that we do is a challenge and opportunity to our sense of purpose and the care we bring to extending Creation. Do we show indifference and carelessness to what we do, or inject a loving intention of beauty and benefit to all that comes from our efforts?

Yes, we need to allow for specific times dedicated to our spiritual reflection and renewal, breathing life into our connection with God and the Universe. But it is also in the meals that we prepare, the plants we place into our gardens, the people that we encounter and speak to through the day, the materials we produce at our desks and on our computers, that we can – and should – affirm and express our spiritual being. It is by surrounding all that we do within a spiritual context that we have not just a spiritual moment, but truly lead spiritual lives.
Prayer for Work
Dear God, please be with me in this work that I do today. Help me to remember that my work is more than just my intentions, my needs, and my ambitions. Let me be guided by your wisdom and intentions. Help me to be mindful of what I am doing, patient in my efforts, and honest in my motivations. Help me bring beauty and love for others into all that I do. Let my full potential be realized through these opportunities that you have brought into my life. Let me find my true purpose within the fulfillment of your greater plan for all that I do.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Connecting With God

When I was a very young child, I experienced a recurring nightmare. I would see myself flying through the air, suddenly landing in a sandy desert with no life – human or vegetation – to be seen. I was all alone in that desolate place. Then my observing eye, like a movie camera on a studio crane, would begin to move away from me, slowly pulling back while looking down on me. As I remain fixed in a tight ball in the center of this scene, the “camera” would continuously draw back and take in more and more of the desolate space surrounding me – the panorama steadily expanding, my form and presence steadily diminishing. I became smaller and smaller, gradually disappearing into a tiny dot on that vast landscape. Just before fading away completely, I would awake – screaming in terror. It was a terror not from fear of physical danger. It was a terror of separation, of disconnection from everything around me, of fading into inconsequence and nothingness. Of ultimate aloneness.

While perhaps less graphically illustrated to others, most people live an unseen inner life of similar experience – emotionally disconnected from and in fear of our surroundings, feeling that we are totally on our own for what happens to us and what we may/may not achieve. We walk among the people and the things of our surroundings, never fully reaching out and truly connecting ourselves to them. Our reaction to that deep sense of aloneness or alienation drives us in many confused directions, more often expressed not as our fear but as our continual “search for inner peace” – a peace that seems highly elusive.

This is where God comes in. Our inner being truly knows that there is some form of a Creative Force, greater than ourselves and beyond what we can see and envision, who has generated all that surrounds us. We are a product of that Creation; both we and our surroundings are all from that Source. We are all part of one greater whole, as one atom links to one cell links to one arm links to one body links to one community of people, sentient beings, and things that links to one universe.

We seek a peace, an accommodation, a connection with all those things we walk beside but do not really touch – an end to our aloneness and separation. Yet it is only when we cease seeing these things as “separate” that connection occurs. It is when we focus on the body of Spirit’s creation that our one atom of life then finds its connected place, its home of peace.

Our peace, our connection to Life, comes up through Allah and back out again. Connecting to Yahweh is connecting to Life. It is a connection we do not have to seek or find; it is already there, and has been with us since our birth. The One is always there with us, in us, encompassing us. We need only to invite our Mother-Father God in to our cognition, our hearing, our understanding, our feeling. That is why making time and effort for our spiritual life is so important. It is not a side venture to our lives; it is our life. The peace we seek awaits us when we commit to renewing our connection with Spirit that we have always had. In that reconnection, our individual self also becomes our Oneness with God and all things.

(Excerpt from forthcoming book A God Connected Life by Randy Bell)