Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Other Six Days

“And on the seventh day God rested,” the Bible records.  Having expended the imagination and energy of doing the first work (i.e. creating the world), God chose to pause in the labors and rest, reflect, and honor the results of what had been accomplished.  And so the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) continue with a similar tradition.  Do your work well, then pause for a time of spiritual reflection to nourish the soul.  It is a practice that also exists in some form for most non-Abrahamic religions.  While the day of choice, form and content of this spiritual reflection is significantly different, the intention remains very similar.  Taking a small portion of our time to consider that which is larger than ourselves; explore the meaning of our creation and life; reset the moral compass that guides us through our thoughts and actions of this existence.

But after spending the time in some formal spiritual gathering in our church, synagogue, mosque or meditation hall; after the prayers, chants, and songs have been sung; after the spiritual talk has been given and heads have nodded in professed concurrence; after one has “seen and been seen” among fellow congregants; then what?  What happens “the other six days?”

For many people, that one dedicated time of spiritual focus – if any at all – is often quickly forgotten over the remainder of the week.  We live disconnected from that supposed renewal of our spiritual time.  Some may squeeze in some crowded moments for morning or nighttime meditation, mealtime prayers, or insightful reading.  Some may pause in short moments during the day and consider the moral factors, the spiritual input, that is appropriate to their next decision to be made.  Some may pause to find the kinder words to be spoken instead of the harsh tongue of our own frustrations.  Some may pause to remember how little we truly know about one another before we pass judgment on them.  And some may pause to remind themselves that each of us is not the center of the universe, but just one small part; humility is the master key that unlocks the Universe’s door.

I know Baptists who accurately quote chapter and verse of the Bible at a moment’s request.  Catholics who are able to keep straight all of the Saints and the Popes.   Jews who faithfully observe the many Laws and Celebrations.  Moslems who speak each verse of the Koran, and prostrate themselves in daily prayers.  Buddhists who readily rattle off any of the numbered teachings of the Dharma.  All have their sacred ritual to follow, ceremonies to inspire us, lessons to teach us.

Quoting the verses, dressing in the robes, wearing the ornaments, and practicing the rituals can nudge us to the spiritual life.  But they are not the spiritual life itself.  It is in our time away from these supports and accoutrements – the other six days – that we must find and practice our true spiritual life.  It is about how we choose to spend our time, choose to speak, and choose to act.  It is about how we consider the needs, welfare and uniqueness of each individual in our interactions with them.  It is about how we carry our spiritual day into our every day.  It is not in the spiritual things, but in our daily routines of living that our spirituality emerges and is fulfilled.

It is not in the 7th day of rest, but in the other six days of work, that we truly experience the Universe.  Or not.  It is our choice.

© 2014   Randy Bell


Tyanna said...

Well stated. Thank you, Randy!
Happiest of New Years to you!

Anonymous said...

It's the little things, the daily goings-on, that is where the storyline is really written. Good point.