How to Become Spiritual: Intractables

I’m sure none of you reading have fallen for the illusion that if you just do this, this, and then that, then Voila! You have a robust spiritual life! It can be two steps forward, one back, or three forward and four back. But then, hopefully, two forward, two more...

How to be Spiritual: Moods and Dispositions

What is the spiritual life? What are evidences that it’s dawning? It’s not sweetness, or even calm. If you’re well attuned to God, you’ll be uneasy and even appalled by much of what goes on in God’s world. The more you’re tethered to God, you’ll have a balanced,...

How to Be Spiritual: Gratitude and Wonder

Years ago, a crucial realization dawned on me – thanks to Henri Nouwen. Half-done reading his incandescent The Return of the Prodigal Son, I halted and re-read multiple times his insistence that gratitude isn’t a spontaneous mood you feel (or don’t), but a decision:...

How to be… Content on this Journey

In our last installment, I lifted up Maggie Ross’s great wisdom – that we feel empty, not because we are empty, but because we’re full of the wrong stuff. And so the spiritual life is a sorting through what has occupied space in your heart, and tossing out...

How to be Quiet and Listen on this Journey

At the heart of the spiritual life is quiet. Prayer is pivotal, too – although prayer can be more noise in my head. We might follow the lead of our Jewish friends, whose constantly repeated opening to prayer or study is “Hear O Israel.” We hear. We listen. We let it...

How to Slow Time Down on this Journey

Time is God’s great gift to us. God has given us time – to live, to know and believe in God, to love others. Time is our treasured resource in the spiritual life – and yet, oddly, time can feel like the great enemy of the spiritual life. I find in me that I am not...

How to… Show Up to be Spiritual on this Journey

Last time I spoke of being grateful, not for something unusual, but for what is always there, and how the spiritual life isn’t about an amazement now and then but always being attentive to the good that is always there. As I was tidying that message up to send, I read...

How to be… Grateful for No Miracles on this Journey

Sometimes I think we think “spiritual” people have extraordinary experiences: maybe visions or hearing God, or some amazing experience, an answered prayer, some startling intervention by God, or a piece of stunning good luck which (wink, wink) we suspect isn’t luck at...

How to Read the Bible (or not) on this Journey

You may notice I haven’t pushed Bible reading in this series so far, and have hardly mentioned it. Two reasons, really. The Bible is intimidating; it’s a big, sprawling, thick jungle of a book with genealogies, wonder, wars and delight. And you can command extensive...

How to be Spiritual… and why it’s hard on this Journey

Moving from where you are right now to where you might dream of being – a person with a fairly satisfying, if challenging spirituality – will be the hardest thing you’ve done, and the best thing. Why didn’t God just make it easy? God makes the spiritual life hard...