Saturday, 20 June 2015

Just a walk in the woods?

Last week I wrote about antsiness and questions. This week I ponder wholeness, or rather, the quest for wholeness.

Oy vay, that sounds heavy. Yes, but...I hope you’ll stick with me while I explore this subject. Last week, I wasn’t sure whether I should post my blog. It felt so ... so ... unfinished. But your responses were astounding. It seems that, in sharing some of my own experiences, you were able to say, “Yeah! Me too!”  Many of you are on the same journey I am on, and isn’t that reassuring? We can help each other.

This  is what I intended when I began this blog: to explore topics of life and growth for people “of a certain age” – and that includes spiritual questions.

Spiritual: a very popular word these days. If you want to sell anything  – books,
 art, retreats, home decor, conferences, magazines, pottery, even clothing
–  just add a whiff of spirituality. Put a butterfly on a scarf, a swirl on a pair of running shoes, crystals on an ornament, and the words “inner growth” on reading materials or conference names, and you’ll get the hungering masses interested.

That’s you and me, folks, because we’re all hungering for wholeness and the answer to the meaning of life. Sometimes, we think we’ve found it, then something happens that knocks our spiritual socks off and we start all over again.

I checked out what “spiritual” really means. The spirit, Wikipedia tells me, is the “animating or vital principle in man and animals” originating in the Latin word for breath. The scripture narrative says that the Creator breathed into the "dust of the ground" and formed a living creature. Traditionally the goal of a spiritual life has been to become more and more closely aligned with the image that God created within us, and which, over the course of life’s experiences, gets banged and bruised out of shape. At least, that’s my take. I don't know how many church fathers are rolling over in their graves as they read this, but I think St. Ireneus is cheering. He said, "The glory of God is a person fully alive."

And so we adopt spiritual practices (or habits, or disciplines -- choose your own word) to help us become more closely conformed to all that we could be, connected to all of creation, and in harmony with God and mankind. (Again: my interpretation.) There are many practices we can adopt to move us along on our spiritual journey: prayer, study of sacred texts, silence, belonging to a community of faith, meditation, social action, worship, walking ...

Walking? Who knows what will bring each of us closer to our Creator? For some of you, it could be biking, or gardening, or taking care of your goldfish. I’ve tried, and stuck to, and sometimes discarded, many practices. I was taught some as a child, but as I matured, I discovered for myself  other practices that also helped me grow. Now I count walking and journaling and creating art as important items in  my spiritual toolkit. When I took stock of my antsiness last week, I realized that I had been neglecting walking and journaling – and so I began again. It’s early days, but I can say that the restlessness is settling down. So I'll share some photos of a walk I took this week.

The path beckons ...

I cross the bridge, and immediately enter a different world. I call it my cathedral. Time slows, and I breathe deeply.

The music in this cathedral is the sound of rushing water and birdsong. "All nature sings, and round me rings, the music of the spheres."  The incense is the scent of growing things, flowers, warm earth.
I walk in a community of old and young plants, the young growing out of the old, integrally connected, and I am part of this community too.

I stand here, totally surrounded, close my eyes, all the better to listen. Amazing what you hear and feel when you stop. Just stop.

Looking up is good, too. How small we are, and yet how important in the Creator's eyes.

There's a season to everything in the woods. This week it's the week that  Ocean Spray blooms.

Take a close look. Amazing! Thousands of blossoms in each bunch, each with dozens of fuzzy stamens, each blossom having a purpose in the grand scheme of things. I am speechless.

It's time to return

to the world of sidewalks, garbage pails, fences and trucks and light poles. And this too is good.

A friend this week mentioned the phrase “being strong at the core” – yes! That's what questing for wholeness is all about, and it's what spiritual practices help us do. It’s what we need in order to tackle the questions, to love the questions, and to live into the answers.

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