Spiritual Life is Not For Sale
The pandemic has taught us, or helped us remember, many things. Some of us have learned about science, or public health, or history. We may have remembered the significance of spending time by ourselves. Many of us have realized spiritual life is not something we can buy or stockpile. Spiritual life is not for sale.
Our lives seem to be full of people trying to sell us things. Whenever we go online, watch television, or look at a magazine we are being subjected to someone trying to sell us something.
The culture we have created is all about buying and selling. We have started to assume everything is for sale.
It is a challenge for some of us to believe spiritual life is not for sale. There seems to be a price we need to pay to enter spiritual life, and ongoing fees along the way. We are overwhelmed by people trying to sell us books or programs for spiritual life, or other products to “help” us.
Some of us look to contemplative spirituality as a way to escape the pressures to buy into certain types of spiritual life.
Even as we try to develop contemplative practices we can feel people trying to sell us things.
The pandemic and the quarantine have helped remind me there is nothing I need to purchase to enhance spiritual life. There is no required reading, no manuals or supplements or study guides. Yes, there are resources which help explain some of my questions, but they are not essential to spiritual life.
Spiritual life is not for sale. We cannot buy more or sell what we have. Each of us has an inexhaustible supply of spiritual life.
Why do we feel it is scarce and we need more than we already have?
Spiritual Depth is Not For Sale
We have entered the final quarter of the year, three months full of celebrations of spiritual depth. It is easy for us to be distracted and assume these days of meaning are all about what we can buy and sell. We forget what these days mean, which is not for sale.
In three weeks we will focus our attention on the costumes and candy we can buy, ignoring the meaning of these days. Some of us will buy decorations for our houses or our yards which will distract us from all those who have died.
Even now, after all these months, we forget about spiritual depth which is not for sale.
Next month we will turn a day dedicated to grateful thankfulness into a festival of food and football. We may give a few moments to platitudes of gratitude, but it is easy for us to move on quickly to entertainment and eating.
We push ourselves to eat quickly so we can head out for the Black Friday sales.
Cutting short the attention we pay to gratitude, we spend the entire month of December focused on buying and spending. Some of us buy even more decorations so we can quickly take down our October scenes and put up the ones for December.
We have forgotten the spiritual depth of these days in December, if we ever understood it. Our month is spent in a flurry of buying and spending. We do not find the time to stop and listen, to reflect, to remember spiritual depth.
Spiritual life is not for sale.
Many of us do not take time even at the end of the year to remember, to think back, or look forward to the new year arriving.
Receiving What is Not For Sale
Some of us no longer recognize what is not for sale.
We are busy acquiring and counting, making sure the balance sheets of our lives look good.
For some of us, spiritual life is a loss. We may never have paid much attention to the experience of spiritual life. Its may be intimidating, scaring us away. Some of us have scars from what we thought was spiritual life and have no desire to explore it any further.
We have locked spiritual life into a specific category and put it out of our minds. It takes too much time or is too scary or too boring. We are not interested in giving it another chance.
Many of us spend our lives pursuing things which we believe we can afford. We assume spiritual life is too expensive, more than we want to spend.
It is a shock when we realize spiritual life is not for sale.
We have given up the skills, like listening and stillness or our imaginations, which allow us to experience spiritual life. It is difficult for us to receive what is not for sale because we can no longer understand how it works.
The Value of What is Not For Sale
We have a difficult time appreciating the value of something which is not for sale. Our world is full of evaluating and analyzing, assessing whether something we consider buying is worth the price.
It is a challenge for us to recognize the value of something which is free.
Spiritual life is not for sale. It is a gift which is ours if we will receive it.
We begin to understand the obstacles and boundaries around spiritual life exist because we create them. Spiritual life is not a financial or economic transaction. We do n0t need to set a value or a price because it is not for sale.
Spiritual life is not about negotiating or haggling or getting the best deal. The more we sit still and listen, paying attention to spiritual depth, the more clearly we begin to understand.
We are not trying to earn spiritual life or qualify for it. As we sit still we begin to appreciate it is all around us and within us.
Spiritual life is not for sale. We do not own it.
How will we appreciate what is not for sale today?
What skills will allow us to receive what is not for sale this week?
[Image by edkohler]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and 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.