One of the most powerful ways in which we infuse and strengthen our own spirituality is to expand it beyond ourselves.
It’s soooo easy to become isolated, fixated, even stuck. We study. We focus. We practice. And though all of this is critical and meaningful, the temptation is rife to veer mostly toward ourselves: My study. My focus. My practice.
What we believe and how we embody/experience our spirituality must be inclusive of the world in which we live and the people with whom we relate – even, and maybe especially, those with whom we do not.
How do we do this? There are so many ways, of course, but here are 3 ideas you can start implementing right away:
- Venture into realms that are outside your boundaries, your comfort zone, your predictable-ness. If you grew up in the church like me, maybe those realms have to do with Tarot, Goddesses, Pagan ritual, or even metaphysics. Take a class. Book a reading. Join a FB group. Build an altar. If your experience is just the opposite, it might mean that you listen to someone talk of their relationship with the god you don’t believe in (or have left), why they believe, why it matters to them, what they love, worship, and revere. Attend a worship service. Listen to liturgy. Download the haunting beauty of Taize on iTunes. Get a Blessing. Step outside your lines.
- Let go of your dogmatism. No matter your perspective or stance, when push-comes-to-shove you still believe you are right. And this, by its very nature, assumes that others are wrong. Though I’m sure you are incredibly open minded, this is dangerous territory – the impact of which you’ve felt before, witnessed many times, and still have the scars by which to prove it. But that door swings both ways. What would it look like for you, me, all of us, to acknowledge that we’re pretty damn opinionated and that maybe, just maybe there are some other pretty incredible positions/perspectives that are worth creating space for? This isn’t about changing your mind (though that’s always a possibility); it’s about becoming more clear, more grounded in your own beliefs through the challenge of appreciating and respecting others’. It’s about allowing for what’s complicated. It’s about stretching your wings and maybe even doing some heavy lifting.
- Apply new templates to the old (or, if you prefer another metaphor, put the old wine in new wineskins). This is my love, of course: (re)telling the ancient, sacred stories of women in Scripture in ways that honor and value them as much as we do myths, fairytales, and epic film. ‘My example. What’s yours? Maybe you listen to hymns that are acoustic re-mixes. Maybe you think about the way in which the Archetype Card you drew this morning might talk to Mary Magdalene or Jesus or Eve. Maybe you repeat a Rosary while Tibetan chants play in the background. Maybe you take that yoga class held in the basement of your neighborhood church. Maybe you fill out tonight’s page in your Gratitude Journal as though you were talking directly to God. Mix it up. Shake it up. Try something new!
I hardly say any of this by way of prescription. I speak every single word on my own behalf; always preaching to the choir. I feel incredibly grateful to be surrounded (and confronted) by things, concepts, and people way outside my purview every day. Each and every one, when I allow such, cause me mysteriously, graciously, powerfully to take deeper breaths, to go further down, to open up my arms, mind, and heart. Each and every one, when I allow such, invite me to a whole world of beauty and wisdom I would have otherwise missed. And each and every one remind me, again and again, that there is so much I don’t know. Thank goodness!
There is no limit to the ways in which our spirituality can expand, grow, broaden, deepen, and ultimately impact. Which of course, is exactly what we endlessly and passionately long for, yes? Let’s do that, then.
May it be so.
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