Our Actions Reflect Spiritual Truth
I belong to a liturgical church. We practice acting in ways which reflect spiritual truth.
For example, the ways we worship together remind us of the community we share built on spiritual truth. Together we remember our shared story, and each of us reflects on our own contribution to the story.
Some of us assume it is what we do when we are together which most reflects spiritual truths. As I was growing up it was emphasized to me how important it was to act the right way at church. Sitting still and paying attention were particularly crucial. Even the clothes we wore were important.
Apparently being stiff and uncomfortable reflected some significant spiritual truths.
Some of us assume our actions when we get together for worship reflect the importance of what we believe. We are sticklers for worshipping one way instead of another. How we practice particular sacraments shows what we believe is true about them.
My understanding of how our actions reflect spiritual truth has expanded over time. I still question the inherent value of being uncomfortable, but also believe how we act during the rest of the week reflects spiritual truth.
What we do in everyday life is just as sacramental as how we behave when we get together one day a week.
How we work, live with our families and friends, treat people we do not know, and understand ourselves matters. Each aspect of how we live reflects spiritual truths we believe and embrace. They may not be the truths in which we say we believe, but they reflect what we actually believe in our hearts.
When we take time to listen we begin to recognize how our actions reflect spiritual truth which shapes our lives.
How Our Actions Reflect Spiritual Truth
It is easy for us to divide our lives up into different compartments. We see spiritual life and everyday life. How we work is separate from how we treat our friends and families. Many of us succeeded in school because we were able to learn how to work on one thing at a time.
There was a time when we acted like children, but now we have outgrown it and we act like grownups.
Several years ago I led a retreat day for a group of students in community college. They were men and women who were leaders in their families and their communities, accustomed to taking responsibility. We talked about how they related to God and what God expected of them.
Each person at the retreat believed God expected them to accomplish things, and the right things. They experienced spiritual life as a series of tasks to be finished, of responsibilities to be met. It was a challenge for them to understand the idea God might want to spend time at play with them.
One of the exercises I did was give each person a small container of soap for blowing bubbles. We spent 30 minutes going wherever we wanted on the Queen Mary in Long Beach discovering God in the bubbles we blew.
Blowing bubbles is not one of the sacraments most of us learn from religion. We found God, though, reflected in our actions that morning. Some of us remembered how spiritual life can help us laugh and smile. Others of us recognized spiritual life in particular experiences we had with specific people.
We were able to appreciate spiritual life in something we thought we had outgrown. Our actions reflect spiritual truth we never outgrow.
I believe many of us think we have outgrown spiritual life.
Our Actions Reflect Spiritual Truth All the Time
Many of us believe we need to intentionally make our actions reflect spiritual truth. We set out to bring what we do and how we behave into line with what we believe is spiritual truth.
Each action we take is treated and examined like an artifact we have crafted. We do not realize how our every act reflects spiritual truth, even actions which melt away like soap bubbles.
Spiritual life is alive in us. The ways we live in the world reflect spiritual truths.
Our actions reflect spiritual truth whenever we interact with anyone, including ourselves. We reflect spiritual truth within us when we smother ourselves in expectations and grow frustrated. Our abilities to accept ourselves and treat ourselves fairly reflect other truths. Our actions reflect spiritual truth all the time, even when we are alone.
The ways we behave, and the assumptions we make, reflect the spiritual truth within us. There are times when we are tired, or afraid, or distracted, when we discover new truths about ourselves.
Spiritual life is not about what we tell people or which practices we follow. Our actions reflect spiritual truth all the time, whenever we are listening.
Why Our Actions Reflect Spiritual Truth
For most of us, physical life is our most immediate experience of being alive.
We understand life beginning or ending when physical life begins or ends. Many of us experience life most intimately through our tangible, physical senses. We trust what our eyes show us or what we hear, or taste or smell. When we want to experience something we hold it in our hands.
It is easy for us to assume we are physical beings who occasionally have spiritual experiences.
We are, in fact, spiritual beings having physical experiences.
Our inner, spiritual life begins long before our physical lives and lasts after we experience physical death. Physical life is wonderful, but it is surpassed by the rewards of spiritual life.
Our actions reflect spiritual truth because we are blowing bubbles in an effort to recognize spiritual life.
Each bubble we send out floating on the air holds the breath which gives us life.
Our soap bubbles eventually burst and reveal the spiritual truth we have been sending out into the world.
When will our actions reflect spiritual truth in our lives today?
How will our actions reflect spiritual truth in new ways this week?
[Image by MZPlus]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He has served as an assistant district attorney, an associate university professor, and is 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.