Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

a desert road near my retreat house

I'm trying to become more familiar with the various social media, and so I have set up a "twitter" account. While I do send out the occasional "tweet," I have found "twitter" to be more helpful to me as a means of seeing the trends in our culture, and I am amazed at the amount of people who are interested in "spirituality." 

Under the "spirituality" category,  you can find a wide array of people - radically conservative, wildly liberal, staunch members of organized institutional religions, people who have absolutely no use for religion, and some who use prayer books while others use stones and crystals.  The thing they all have in common is that they coalesce under the category of "spirituality." 

For me, the fact that so many people are categorized  as "spiritual"can be somewhat deceptive.

From what I see, many people see the spiritual quest as being something like a "hobby."   You might go to church (or to the synagogue or to the mosque), maybe you take a yoga class or practice some form of meditation, maybe you chant or even read a blog or two. Then it's off into the real world, where ambition, brutal competition and self-centered consumerism rule the day and real life has little or no relationship to the "spiritual" journey.

Benedictine nun, Sister Joan Chittester has suggested that lots of people sit in a "spiritual jacuzzi" -  occasionally engaging in some sort of "spiritual activity" that feels comfortable and nice,  and then get out, dry off and go back into the rigors of everyday life. 

As I see it, "spirituality" is not a  "jacuzzi,"  it is a road on which you travel. 

On my spiritual journey,  I become aware of God's enveloping presence - a holy  presence that cosmically connects me with everything and everyone. And so I must travel a path in life that somehow reflects this awareness. 

When the meditation is completed, the quiet time is over and the prayers are finished, I am then called to walk down the road and do my best in devoting myself to compassionate living in all I say and do. 

The path of the spiritual road involves living my everyday life with open and outstretched arms- welcoming the stranger, forgiving the enemy, sharing who I am and what I have for the welfare of others, as well as doing what I can to help build a world of greater justice for those who have no voice.  This is the ground I must walk on everyday if I claim to be on the spiritual journey; otherwise, I am just sitting in a jacuzzi.

The ethics and values associated with walking on the spiritual road are directly contradictory to the ethics and values of most of today's culture. And so, even though there is great interest in "spirituality" today, I think that the spiritual road is, more often than not,  a road less traveled. 

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