It took only a slight shift in understanding for us to realize that daily life — everything we do — could be a spiritual practice. We both remember the day it happened. We were sitting in the living room on a Sunday afternoon. Frederic was reading passages from books we’d reviewed that he thought we should include in our book Spiritual Literacy, which was to answer the question “How can I live a spiritual life every day” by illustrating ways to read the texts of our experiences for sacred meaning.
Mary Ann was agreeing that the excerpts were beautifully written and carried lovely messages, but she kept asking, “But why is that spiritual?”
Fred would answer: “Because it’s about gratitude.” Or wonder or paying attention or transformation or mystery.
Finally, Mary Ann declared, “But then everything can be spiritual.”
If we live and move and have our being in the Divine, if God is in everything and everything is in God, as many of the world religions teach, then all of our activities, all our encounters, all things in the world around us are signs, symbols, and samples of the sacred. Through practice, we can always find Spirit near at hand.
There are many ways to define spirituality (just Google it) but one of our favorites is that it is a way of seeing. Just like a filter that a photographer might use on a lens, or an app for a digital camera, a spiritual perspective doesn’t change the scene but it changes the perception. Spirituality brightens and highlights certain parts of the picture, notably the wholeness in us and the Oneness in the universe. It enables us to see connections; another definition of spirituality is the art of making connections.
Back on that Sunday afternoon, we started a list of practices that are markers of the spiritual life in all the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. We called them the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy and began to use them as lenses through which we viewed everything from our cats’ antics to the movies we reviewed and the things we noticed in our neighborhood in New York City.
Throughout history there have always been teachers and even whole groups within the world’s religions that have emphasized everyday spirituality, practicing the presence of God in daily life, and mindful living moment by moment. We’ve found through responses to our work that there is a growing yearning today to apply our inner work to what’s happening in our outer lives. This goes for both those who are affiliated with a religion and those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” Or to put it simply, we want to make spirituality practical.
That’s what we will be doing in this blog. We’ll be looking at our own experiences, teaching stories we discover in books, scenes from movies, and inspirational quotes to discover how the sacred shows up in our daily lives. We believe that spirituality is a way of seeing reality, and spiritual practice is our way of deeply experiencing it. We invite you to join us.