The spiritual life invites us to turn away from cultural ideals of power, success and accumulation and to embrace vulnerability, simplicity and poverty. Spirituality speaks of surrender, sacrifice, discipline and detachment.
But we are immersed in our culture, swimming in it, so it can be difficult even to see our attachments and recognize what needs to be let go.
Some suggestions for the spiritual journey:
~Our culture may demand productivity, but God desires our presence and openness. Doing more (more praying, reading, etc.) and believing we have control of spiritual outcomes can be counterproductive, because our efforts alone will not produce spiritual results.
In the spiritual life, our task is to be open to receive whatever God sends; God does the rest.
A good first step is to let go of our assumptions and expectations and to accept what God sends. Set aside time every day to be present to God and to receive the gift of God’s love.
~Don’t compare your spiritual journey with another’s. Each of us is at a different place and only God knows where we are meant to be. Accept where you are and focus on your own growth.
Matthew 20:1-16 tells of workers who came early in the day and agreed to a wage. Others came to work later in the day, yet they received the same wage as those who worked a full day. The all-day workers protested. The owner reminded them that they got the agreed-upon wage, adding: “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
God’s mercy and love is extravagant and abundant. When we are the recipients, it is wonderful. But when we look around and see others we deem as less worthy receiving the same abundance, it can seem we got cheated. Don’t look around.
~Practice mindfulness. Learning to notice what we notice helps develop awareness of where God is moving in our lives. Stop once or twice a day and look back over the past few hours. When did you feel closest to God? And when did you feel most distant from God?
Learn to look openly at what brings you into harmony with God and what distances you from God, trusting that the Holy Spirit is engaged in both.
Growing in awareness helps us make small course corrections that enable us to be more tuned into God’s movement in our lives.
~Practice gratitude. Gratitude creates an awareness of the blessings and graces being poured into our lives, but which we can dismiss or not even notice because we are not looking.
Begin by noticing how often you say, “thank you.” Make note of small gifts and blessings you receive throughout the day. It can be as simple as someone holding a door open for you or a patient driver.
Offer thanks for every little thing because gratitude begets gratitude.