This column is the final in a series of lessons on life's most important journey.
When Sunday is just another day, it makes it that much harder for individuals in our culture to reclaim their sense of spirituality. In the midst of media bombardment and calendar tyranny, it is hard to make a space to touch base with our spiritual selves and the Spirit of God.
Where do we find a tributary in the midst of this desert? Where do we find a spring to keep us going? Where do we find those moments?
You have to hunt for, discover and then selfishly claim whatever those moments are for you. Most people neither find them nor recognize them. They are oblivious to living in a universe at the will of a Creator.
You don’t have to travel thousands of miles and gaze over the depths and chasms of the Grand Canyon to recognize the majesty of God. You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest or cross an ocean.
If you will just intentionally carve quiet moments, shut out the din, assume a comfortable posture and listen, God will nudge you. God is likely nudging you all the time but you don’t notice because you’re letting life jostle you every minute.
My wish for you is that you be a spiritual person. You can be a spiritual leader only if you are a spiritual person yourself. I’m not talking about transforming where you are into a monastery, convent or temple.
I am saying find that link between The Almighty and the physical reality of your life. Discern how you are to navigate life in the physical realm that confines you, based on the spiritual reality that knows no bounds.
I find I cannot be fully human without being fully in touch with inner spirituality with which God has endowed me.
People in tune with that spirit enjoy life despite negative physical circumstances. How do some, living in abject poverty, not despair? From whence can come a positive word in a hospice bed? How is the grieving widow able to move into tomorrow?
They have found a way; they’ve done what it takes to connect their human spirit to the creative spirit.
Sadly, many people’s dreams have long ago fallen to their ankles. Those people are grateful if they can buy a soda and pay the rent. The spirit with which they were born has shriveled from neglect, and it’s just too hard to rehydrate it.
Would you have a better life, a more spiritual and fulfilling life? Then do the work to discover your passion and find significance. Once you discover it, ride the wave.
Be the best pipefitter you can be, or the best garbage collector, schoolteacher, doctor, or community leader.
I’m not cut out to tote and lug the garbage cans that stronger men than I can do day after day. But I appreciate their work, and at least once a year I make it a point to meet them at the end of my driveway and tell them so. Last summer much to my surprise, one of them told me, “I love what I do. I get to help people.”
As I’ve released more of my own spirit through my life, I’ve grown more generous with my time, money and presence. That’s the main thing I can give to people now: I give them me.
In return, I’m blessed with more opportunities to directly relate to other people. It seems that people perceive I’m more accessible now, and people who need to connect with me somehow do. They see in me someone who will listen, comfort, advise, and bless.
Recently at the YMCA, a widower poured out his grieving heart, two babies held out their arms, and a little one came running up to me, a total stranger. “He never goes to anyone,” said his trailing mother. I like that. There is something about my spiritual confidence that encourages that.
I’m a more positive person today. I fill my thoughts with positive things and I believe that living in the spirit of gratitude is the key to happiness. It’s a key to the whole process of developing you spirituality.
I love the story about the 112-year-old North Carolina woman, Sina Hayes, who said the secret to her longevity is “happy thoughts.” Her 90-year-old son, Carlyle, who calls her every day from Texas and comes to see her four times a year, would say the same thing. He still works 15 hours a week, by the way.
When you allow your spirit to shine through you, and release it to soften your countenance, and you become approachable, you become a resource for helping.
The organization of which I took the helm as a 41-year-old in no way today resembles what it was then. We are an institution of a large denominational organization that has known significant strife during my tenure. Yet, because of my longevity and growth, I’ve become a known and trusted quantity. Part of my spiritual mission is to say we can come reason together.
In an era when small differences carve wide chasms, that, for me, is spirituality and spiritual leadership.