Things were much easier when I was a child.
When I was growing up, the boundary between spiritual life and everything else was clearer. The spiritual stuff happened one day a week, when we worshipped and read scriptures. We did things a certain way, and spiritual life fit neatly into our schedule. The rest of the week was for normal stuff, like work and school and playing.
Now it seems like everything runs into everything else. It is like when the gravy on our potatoes slips over on our salad. It is like when our vegetables slide over into our dessert.
Life is a challenge to keep separated now. It is harder to see and understand everything when it all runs together.
It was comforting to be able to put everything, and everyone, into their proper category. She was spiritual, he was political; they were Catholic, they were Buddhist. It felt like we were all safely sorted.
What is the difference between spiritual life and everyday life? Where are the boundaries? How do we keep everything neatly organized on our plates?
It feels like it has gotten progressively more challenging to appreciate what is spiritual and what is not. We have a sense that the boundaries have broken down. We are afraid our categories and certainties will be washed away.
Even when we are doing things we see as spiritual, on the right days, we are no longer so sure. Many people I know feel much closer to the Sacred in nature than they do in a worship building. The lines between spiritual and professional, physical and political are much less clear.
The gravy on our spiritual life keeps running over into our politics. Physical and emotional life is flavoring our family life and professional life.
It all makes me wonder whether my categories were ever real at all.
The spiritual life I am discovering reminds me of learning how to cook. As we begin, we hold onto our cookbooks with both hands. We read each recipe in detail and meticulously follow every step. We are studying, and are more comfortable if we think we understand every word. As we gain experience, we grow familiar with how cooking works. We feel more confident, and explore what is not written out in the recipe.
We begin to see, and taste, the nuances and poetry of cooking. Life takes us beyond what is written.
Like learned cooks, we begin to taste the flavor of spiritual life surpassing our categories.
Where have we found unexpected spiritual life this week?
How do we recognize spiritual life flowing beyond our boundaries?
[Image by Dean Hochman]