How to… Show Up to be Spiritual on this Journey

Reflections from Dr. Howell

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 this little jolt from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

“We are spiritual beings but we are also physical beings; God has given us a material world with which to engage. We cannot be spiritual, close to God, all the time.” He’s thinking of the rhythm of secular time and sacred time – hugely important! I’d dare to quibble with him and say We can be close to God all the time because we are close to God all the time.

How to become spiritual? There’s no one way that fits all – but all spirituality that is worthwhile, sustainable, and enriching requires you to show up. And to show up again. And again. Do some spiritual something. Don’t wait until you feel like doing it. And don’t squeeze it in, like a quickie tik-tok. Book in the time – and place. I hid in the bathroom when my kids were little and the house was a cacophony.

Make it your one inviolable commitment in your daily schedule. If you don’t, your hopes of being spiritual will just slip slide away. There’s simply no other way to be spiritual than … to be spiritual, to do something to feed your spirit, to expand your awareness of God and your deepest self, and the life of the world.

The more you pray, the more you pray. Committed time in silence and meditation makes me more attentive to God and to my purpose during the rest of the day when I’m busy and there’s noise. You show up, and keep showing up with God – and then God seems to show up more when you’re busy doing stuff. It’s a habit, and only becomes a habit if you can kick all the other habits of TV, racket, chatter, rushing about. We’ll say more about time next time.

Find a rhythm between sacred time and the rest of your life. What you try at first may not work for you. Try something else. Stick with it. If nothing else, God is honored that you’re trying. That’s the spiritual life, really: honoring God with your life, your time, your self. What you do over and over, what’s routine for you, becomes routine, it becomes who you are.

TRY THIS on for size: every day, or twice a day (ambitious, aren’t I?), shut off your gadgets, and breathe deeply for 2 or 3 or 10 minutes. Ponder. Talk to God. Try to listen to God. See if you can double your time. You’ll get used to it. You’ll get better at it.