I would like to share my story, my spiritual journey, while I honor yours. We are all different- some of us believe in God, some do not. Some believe in organized religion and others abhor it.
Many people struggle with a vague sense that we are not alone- that there are higher powers in the universe at work, but they are unsure as to who or what. Generally, we call that being agnostic, but whatever label you choose to use to describe your religious or spiritual life our hope is that you are either regularly practicing your faith, continuing to search for what you believe, or at least being curious about the possibilities.
I initially grew up in a faithless, religion-less home, where there were no spiritual practices, discussions or religious routines that I saw my family engage in. As I grew in the elementary school years, I was aware that my grandmother’s sisters were Jewish, but that only translated into occasional glimpses of Jewish culture and language from the Aunts.
Fast forward, and by the time I was an adolescent my mother studied Catholicism to ready herself for marriage to my now stepdad who is Catholic. By fourteen, I became interested in finding out what that was about. I too began to speak to a priest, attend mass and become familiar with the bible. Once I got further into my teen years, I also attended Catholic retreats.
Catholicism was my foray into learning about God. By the time I was leaving my teenage years I discovered that while I had a thirst to know more about who God is and how I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the organized religious part was no longer fitting into my paradigm of meaningful things- so with great intention I sought to learn more about the relationship part while leaving the religious practices behind.
Today I am happy to say that was the best possible decision for me. My faith brings me much comfort, joy and peace, even in the midst of life’s challenges and difficulties.
As I share my story, I am reminded of the difficulties in families, in communities and around the world that occurs for people of differing faiths or religious beliefs. I am reminded that something so beautiful can be made so horrific by others who have no tolerance for beliefs that differ from their own.
I am reminded of wars, both past and present, that occur because people have lost their compassion and curiosity for other humans, or they believe they are entitled to something that someone else has, or there is conflict over something that someone else has assigned a different meaning to or interpretation for.
I long for a world that longs for peace, compassion, justice, and love. I long for the world to know about the love and peace that comes from believing in God.
With that said, it is distressing to witness the current events in our world. I constantly have to remind myself that He gives us free will and with that there are those that commit acts of evil, hatred and injustice.
Since we cannot control events of this world, and especially those that continue to forge ahead with acts of violence and misery, we can make the effort to control what we can. That is, our own beliefs- how they impact our daily living, and how we show up with others.
Whether you believe in God the Father of heaven and earth, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, whether you are searching,or whether you have a completely different set of religious or faith beliefs and practices, this is our hope:
Every day you start your day with gratitude. -Every day is a gift. These days are numbered and finite. None of us knows how many we get. Start each day practicing gratitude. Do you have shelter? You are blessed. Do you have clothing to put on? You are blessed. Do you have work, a job, a career, or a business that allows you to earn money? People who love you? Count those blessings and do not take them for granted, for your very life is a gift.
Start your day with Prayer, Meditation, a Devotional, or some kind of spiritual reading.
This is the kind of practice that reminds us that the world is large and evil is looming, and yet, we can overcome by ensuring we fill our head and heart with truth, words of wisdom and comfort. Instead of jumping out of bed and leaping into the day already stressed, take a few minutes to start your day with a spiritual focus. It can help you refocus on who and what really matters.
For those that are believers, Pray Ceaselessly. We are certainly living in challenging times. Pray for your own heart and mind, that your ways would be congruent with God’s ways. That you are bringing light and love into your family, your workplace and everyone you meet. Those of you that have a different source or motivation, you too can choose to be light and love in the world.
Refocus, Reflect and Reprioritize. Think of the lessons learned during shutdown during the pandemic of all of the normal aspects of our daily lives. Remember how abruptly it all changed? The unknowns, the uncertainties. When people are guided by faith, those unknowns become more tolerable. For some, those uncertainties become even exciting as we allow the spiritual to unfold and show us what is next. What are you chasing? Is it worth the cost? In the end, what will have mattered most?
Consider a Fast or Spiritual Cleanse. This can look like many things. For some it means creating a time for fasting or cleansing for a period of time to create more time in your schedule for spiritual reflection. For others, it can entail giving up some pleasures like forgoing your triple espresso latte and using that time to consider what it means to pause and nourish your body and your soul. Some people choose to “eat clean”- eliminating junk food, processed food and sugar- all things that ravage our bodies over time. Eating closer to nature can be a wildly satisfying and exciting spiritual journey.
As I write this, a person I know who has been a meaningful person in my life and the lives of my children, is in her end stage of life.
Chasing the latest tech gadget is not on her radar. Getting her latte just right at Starbucks is the furthest thing from her mind. Having the biggest and nicest house, car, jewelry collection- none of that matters.
She lived in a gentle way. She has lived with the priority of loving and serving God and loving others.
Want to get one thing right in this life? Pursue a healthy spiritual relationship. And whomever you choose, and whatever spiritual practices you choose, make sure that they are genuine, consistent and that they ground you, bringing you joy, peace and comfort.
Imagine if everyone in Kitsap were reflecting light and love every day. Imagine what it would feel like to be in our community where people remain curious and compassionate about others.
Imagine it for this world.
Be the love and the light.