Practices From the Inside Out: How Do We Live in Times Like These?

Practices From the Inside Out: How Do We Live in Times Like These? June 15, 2019

How Do We Live in Times Like These?

Some of us have had enough. Every morning we wake up to something more frightening and harder to believe than yesterday. How do we find spiritual life in times like these?

We believe spiritual life is about finding wholeness and restoration. Spiritual life, we have been told, transforms our sin and brokenness into new life. We read our story to be one of progress and growth, one step after another.

Some of us have been living into spiritual life for quite a while. We start to feel we should have made more progress than we apparently have so far.

Standing on the shoulders of all these generations over centuries, why are we living in times like these?

Should we have grown past this, made more progress than this?

Why are we still fighting each other about all these questions which do not really matter? How is it these things persist in attracting our attention? Why do we seem unable to resist painting ourselves into a corner again and again?

When can we focus our efforts on solving meaningful problems, helping people who need help? How did we get here?

Many of us seem to be convinced spiritual life is caught up in theoretical concepts and analytical thinking. We believe we can reason our ways forward, devising one step after another.

If we are so good at thinking our way forward, how did we end up in times like these?

Others of us feel overwhelmed about where we are. How are we as individuals supposed to change things? Can one or two of us make much of a difference?

Are there ways for us to live as spiritual people in times like these? What do we do next? Where do we turn?

Spiritual Life in Times Like These

Some of us seem to be convinced spiritual life is super human.

We appear to believe in superheroes with special powers to help us get out of trouble in times like these. Other people have faith in their own ability to control life and create positive results. For some people, spiritual life is so far beyond them they prefer not to think about it at all.

Some of us embrace spiritual life as a concept which is separate from our everyday experiences. We may try to confine spiritual life to particular places or days of the week. It is as though we divide our lives into different compartments, everyday and spiritual.

We seem to think we can hold spiritual life at arms length. Do we believe we can choose which aspects of life we want to experience and which we do not? Some of us have a disjointed, arbitrary understanding of spiritual life.

It is easy for us to want to try to understand and control the world, and people, around us by compartmentalizing. We expect to deal with one set of situations in one way and other sets in separate ways.

For me, it is very difficult to separate spiritual life from everyday life. Spiritual life draws us to trust and celebrate the deepest parts of who we are. Our actions, the work we do, are everyday reflections of how spiritual life works.

Spiritual life is about everyday experiences like love and sex, life and death. Spiritual life infuses everyday life, giving it meaning and purpose.

We are human because of our spiritual life. Spiritual life shows us how human we are.

The meaning and purpose spiritual life gives everyday life are particularly significant in times like these.

Practicing Spiritual Life in Times Like These

Spiritual life is not about superheroes swooping in to save us as if by magic from times like these. There is no special formula or magic incantation to spiritual life.

We are not looking for an escape, for a way to take us away from times like these.

These are the times in which we live. Whether we acknowledge our own participation in creating these times, we live here now. We have nothing to gain by ignoring them or wishing they were different.

Even when we wish we could wave our wands and make things go away, that is not spiritual life. Spiritual life is about showing us how we live in times like these and how we contribute to making them better.

In my experience spiritual life rarely endows me with superhuman strength or powers. Rather than showing me how to dramatically save the day, spiritual life is about making a difference.

There are times when life seems filled with the darkness of hopelessness or fear. Sometimes I am close to despair about things getting any better.

Spiritual life helps me breathe deeply and appreciate what I can do to help people who need it.

Making a Difference in Times Like These

Each of us listens and relates to spiritual life in our own ways.

For some of us spiritual life pushes and prods us into new efforts. We may be inspired to serve people who need our help or to advocate for changes in our society. Some of us will distribute blankets or clothes or medicine or food while others will build shelters. We may become a voice for people who are rarely heard or we may work behind the scenes for change.

Each of us is called to make a difference in our own ways. I know people who are inspired by spiritual life to do things they thought they could never do. Spiritual life draws us in unexpected directions in times like these.

These are times which bring out the strongest and best in us.

The one thing I am certain spiritual life is not asking us to do in times like these is remain the same.

What is spiritual life drawing us to do in times like these?

How can we learn more today about how to live in times like these?

When this week will spiritual life show us how we can make a difference in times like these?

[Image by kevin dooley]

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

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