Practices From the Inside Out: Celebrating Spiritual Life


Celebrating Spiritual Life

We love to celebrate, commemorate, and recognize. Almost anything is a cause for our celebration.

At the same time, our culture has converted celebrating into a financial activity.

Holidays which entered our culture as spiritual events have been converted into commercial seasons. We have developed sectors of our economy which are almost entirely dependent on holiday spending.

Our culture does an excellent job of generating revenue from holidays with spiritual roots.

I saw the first Christmas decorations for sale in stores months ago.

Some stores make a conscious decision not to put up Christmas displays until after Thanksgiving. A few businesses still remain closed all day on Thanksgiving Day.

In many stores, Easter sales displays will go up almost immediately after Christmas.

Many of us feel weighed down by the obligations and activities we have created around holidays. Is it really celebrating when there are so many things we are told to do?

We no longer really think about celebrating spiritual life.

Some of us think spiritual life is about following rules. Other people see spiritual life as being about what we think, not what we do. We may assume spiritual life focuses on expectations or responsibilities.

What does all that have to do with celebrating?

When do we have time or energy for really celebrating spiritual life?

Is spiritual life something we want to celebrate in our lives?

How would we actually celebrate spiritual life in meaningful ways?

Many of us allow other people to decide what, and when, we will celebrate. We have grown accustomed to not thinking about why some things are more important to us than others.

What Do We Celebrate?

Celebrating is acknowledging a significant or happy event with a gathering or activity. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, graduations and achieving important milestones.

Some of us tend not to appreciate being told what to celebrate. I have a limited tolerance for mandatory revelry and prefer to choose my own celebrations. Traditions do not really carry much weight with me. I prefer to make my own choices to celebrate in my own way.

For example, one year I celebrated my birthday by choosing friends to take out to dinner. We had a great time, an excellent meal, and meaningful conversation. There was no party, no balloons, and no cake. I enjoyed myself immensely.

Many of the occasions when we are expected to celebrate can feel artificial and forced. We often create more real revelry by celebrating something unsanctioned.

Each of us chooses to celebrate when we want. There is something deeper than we might generally be aware of which sparks our inner celebration.

For many of us, celebration and spiritual life is a challenging combination. Our experience may teach us there is a wall of separation between spiritual life and feeling good. We are used to understanding spiritual life as a struggle or a journey, not a celebration.

I see spiritual life in a different light.

We apparently think we need an external reason, like words on a calendar, to celebrate. For me, spiritual life gives me cause for revelry almost every day. Celebrating spiritual life is not dependent on what we are told to do.

While spiritual life can be challenging, it is also a source of deep joy. We can celebrate the love and possibilities of spiritual life even though it is not easy.

We can practice the spiritual discipline of finding something to celebrate every day.

How Do We Celebrate Spiritual Life?

We do not need to buy or rent elaborate equipment or decorations to celebrate spiritual life. Celebrating spiritual life is not necessarily a matter of complex ceremonies or practices.

It is possible to celebrate spiritual life quietly, even privately within ourselves.

We develop a spiritual practice of finding something to celebrate each day and it is enough to remember. Our celebration can be writing down each day’s cause to remind ourselves. As our list grows we look back and see all the reasons we have to celebrate spiritual life.

We may also want to share our celebrations with a few other people. Like my birthday dinner, we can choose the people with whom we celebrate carefully. Several of us might decide to celebrate together.

There is room for great creativity in celebrating spiritual life. Some of us may decide to celebrate on our own or with a select group of a few people. We may give ourselves the treat of a visit to the woods or the mountains or the beach.

It is possible to celebrate by ourselves even when surrounded by other people. There are people who celebrate spiritual life while they participate in a religious congregation.

We may decide to infuse the words of a religious service with our celebration.

Some people might feel they are not really paying attention to the service itself. It is difficult for me to see the downside of using a service in a celebration of spiritual life.

Celebrating Every Day

We choose to celebrate something each day. Our days are full of significant moments we acknowledge in our actions.

Some days we choose to celebrate the joys of our lives and other days we celebrate the sorrow. We give our attention to the significant events which fill our lives, celebrating and remembering.

Each of our moments contains the spiritual life which surrounds and saturates us. Some of us choose to acknowledge spiritual life, celebrating it by being open to it. Other people decide to turn away, celebrating something else.

We acknowledge the significance of spiritual life as we pay attention to it and remember. Our celebration includes our reflection which allows us to recognize spiritual life in us.

We can find something new to celebrate every day. Each day is filled with new gifts to us which we open in our celebration.

Who will you invite to share your celebration of spiritual life?

How can we be celebrating spiritual life this week?

What will you decide to celebrate today?

[Image by bfick]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

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