On Spirituality

Rev. Aaron Payson

On Spirituality

What do we mean when we talk about everyday spirituality? There are numerous definitions. “The spiritual life is, at root, a matter of seeing,” John Shea …reminds us. “It is all of life seen from a certain perspective. It is walking, sleeping, dreaming, eating, drinking, working, loving, relaxing, recreating, sitting, standing, breathing. …spirit suffuses everything; and so, the spiritual life is simply life, wherever and whatever, seen from the vantage point of spirit.”

…Two simple but profound definitions are offered by Alan Jones …who regards spirituality as “the art of making connections,” and by Jewish scholar, David Ariel, who calls it “heart knowledge.”

…Regina Coll suggests that spirituality is an “awareness of the ‘more than meets the eye’ in our daily lives …it refers to our hopes and dreams, our patterns of thought, our emotions, feelings, and behaviors.”

… Many define spirituality as a way of being in the world. …Latin American liberation theologian Leonardo Boff calls spirituality “that attitude which puts life at the center, and defends and promotes life against all the mechanisms of death, desiccation, or stagnation.

The journey toward wholeness is a common motif in some definitions of spirituality. Psychotherapist Molly Young Brown writes: “When we expand our awareness, strengthen our center, clarify our purpose, transform our inner demons, develop our will, and make conscious choices, we are moving toward deeper connection with our spiritual self.” Many definitions, subtle differences in emphasis. All of them allow for spirituality to be an everyday adventure that can touch more and more areas of our lives.
(Excerpt from Spiritual Literacy by Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat)

November’s Touchstone Ministry Theme is “Spirituality” which, for me, defined in its simplest form means “how we make meaning” as human beings. To be spiritual is to consciously be. Like the definitions offered above, this process can take many forms and is as vibrant for the scientist as it is for the mystic.

What it means to be spiritual is to make of our life experiences something more than simply happenstance. While certain things are in fact random, the meaning that we garner from our experience is not. Meaning-making is an act of will. What this process requires of each of us is an effort to transform our mere existence into a charmed existence, by which I mean the embodied sense that we are formed by all that happens within and to us and that we take part in that formation.

Furthermore, we do not become spiritual simply on our own, the process happens within a larger circle of that and those with which we communion, by choice or circumstance. Our relationships provide much of the substance of our experience and are the means through which much of our experience is explored for us to derive meaning.

This month’s Touchstones Journal contains the following, “Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat write, ‘Separateness is an illusion. That’s what we learn through the spiritual practice of connections. Everything is interrelated—in time, space, and our very being. Both religion and science reveal this truth—Hinduism’s image of Indra’s net, Buddhism’s understanding of interbeing, the experiences of the mystics, the teachings of ecology and physics, even the Internet. One definition of spirituality is ‘the art of making connections.’’ Spirituality is about forging deep connection with ourselves, with others, with nature, and with the transcendent, however we understand it to be. Superficial connections are unsatisfying and fleeting, but deep connections are nurturing and lasting. Spiritual practices are an important means of cultivating deep connections.”

This month, we’ll explore some of these deep connections and ask how it is, especially during this anxious time, we might foster deeper meaning and more abundant life. Join us for our continuing exploration!

Blessings, Aaron