Spirituality has to do with the fundamental propelling forces of our loves, our most profound loves, passions and concerns.
Ours is a society in much flux. Old standards and traditions have begun to loss their meaning. Practices that provided so much support in the past seem to offer little now. The certainties of previous generations no longer seem valid. People are beginning to look for new meaning. Within this conversation of exploration, many are beginning to explore spirituality. Many Eastern practices have come into vogue as practitioners look for answers to plaguing questions. “What meaning does life hold for me?” “What is the source of happiness?” “What am I supposed to be doing?”
Whereas many of these questions used to be reserved for the so-called mid-life crises, now all generations have begun to ponder them. Our world is becoming more and more technological, with less and less personal contact. Innovations seemingly have added to our burdens and not diminished them. As time and space become more precious but less frequent, we are posed with the questions listed above.
We have entered a time in which many are searching to those “propelling forces” as Gerald May mentions. At the heart of Christian spirituality is the realization that we have been created by God and God has a plan for each us. The question is how do we come to know what that plan is? This is when we begin to explore our spirituality.
Live up to the Light thou hast, and more will be given to thee.
In order to realize what God has planned for us, we must first stop and explore ourselves as well as God. It involves a process of discernment, of listening “to our inner selves and learning to recognize the movements that arise from the Holy Spirit” as Robert Wickes points out.
But it is not only an internal exploration, for we must also inquire of the external, of watching and listening creation and sensing the movements of God in the world. Perhaps God will speak to us in the wind or in our neighbor. The first step is being open to this process and second step is being willing to make the time to continue in the process.
Love God and do as you will.
There are many forms of spiritual exploration and it is essential that we all find the form that is most comfortable for us. Some enjoy the solitude of prayer, for others it is a nature hike, while others enjoy reading. There is no one way to begin our exploration, one just needs to dive in and try. Perhaps find a quiet place in the house and sit and listen for yearnings of your heart. Or take a walk outside and see the intricate beauty of creation. The only thing required is the yearning to know God more, let that yearning guide you.
It is sometimes difficult to pursue our spiritual journeys on our own. For those who would prefer to take the journey with another person, they might want to enter into spiritual direction. A spiritual director is a companion who helps to notice the Spirit’s work in your life. They are not as much a director as someone willing to take the journey with you. For those interested in exploring spiritual direction, feel free to contact Pastor Todd Stavrakos.
As resources go, I invite you to explore the Oasis Ministries website and look at the resources they provide. They also offer a number of retreats and programs that might be of interest.
Another place to find interesting programs is Pendle Hill Retreat Center, which is a Quaker facility located in Wallingford, PA.
Locally, the Middleton Center at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church also provides resources and programs.
For beginnings, I recommend the book Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life by Marjorie J. Thompson.