At the beginning of this year I was given a 1982 Fender Lead III guitar in near perfect condition! This was like a dream come true, because ever since I started playing guitar at sixteen I have wanted to learn lead guitar.
But, the name “Lead” on my guitar didn’t miraculously turn me into a rock guitar god. I’m still far from where I want to be as a lead guitarist, but I’ve noticed that when I take time to practice, intentionally, consistently, and with the help of tried and tested techniques and concepts, I start to sound better, and I begin to move a little closer to my goal of becoming a good player.
SPIRITUALITY AS PRACTICE FOR LIVING WELL
People sometimes ask me what I mean by the word ‘spirituality’. It’s a word that can mean so many things, but I have found it most helpful to think about spirituality as the work we do in order to be more intentional about living the best human life we can – a life that is meaningful and fulfilling for ourselves, while leaving the world a little kinder and more compassionate because of our presence in it. It is an intentional journey into being more creative, more alive and more deeply connected with ourselves, others, our universe, and God (however we may understand or relate to the Divine).
James K.A. Smith in his book Desiring The Kingdom, explains that at the heart of spirituality are “patterns of practice” – practices that we repeat over and over in order to develop habits that naturally enable us to live what we believe is our best life. In the same way that consistent, repeated practice of scales, chords, arpeggios, and other musical techniques lead me to become a better musician, so consistent repetition of spiritual practices lead us to become better people.
THE PRACTICE COURT OF LIFE
To offer another example; Serena Williams did not wake up one day and decide to win a Grand Slam tournament. No, she spent hours on the practice court:
- learning how to read the speed and trajectory of the ball;
- preparing her grip and stance to power the ball back over the net;
In the beginning her game was probably pretty ugly and ineffective, but after years of repeated practice, she is one of the most powerful and beautiful players in tennis.
Spiritual practice is like this. When we start, we are often incapable of adequately responding to the challenges and struggles life throws at us, and so we get:
- or destructive.
But, over years of repeated spiritual practice, we find ourselves better able to navigate the turmoil of living with:
- and peace.
AN ONLINE COMMUNITY FOR PRACTICING SPIRITUALITY
EvoFaith is an online spiritual community where we can support and challenge one another to be more intentional and consistent in our spirituality. It gives space for a wide variety of spiritual practices, but it will also offer some suggestions and resources for how to engage in intentional spiritual practice. Our free downloadable Advent resource is one example. In addition, in everything we do here at EvoFaith we believe that listening, curiosity, and mindfulness are essential qualities to bring into all our spiritual practices.
This is how we will be working with spirituality in the EvoFaith community. And you can start being part of the journey right away:
- By leaving a comment below: What spiritual practices have shaped how you live? What different spiritual practices (meaning, outside of the usual ones) have been helpful for you?
- Perhaps this week you would find it helpful to try one new practice in your life and see what impact it has on you.
- You can also sign up for our newsletter to receive more ideas and resources, or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, or like our Facebook page.
- And a key to spirituality is sharing the love. So, if you know of anyone who would find EvoFaith helpful, why not invite them to join us too?
Over to you!
Discussion, robust debate, and respectful disagreement are encouraged. However, shaming, attacking, and trolling are not. Please keep the comments on topic, and kind. Any comments that violate this ethos will be removed.
I am addicted to words – I am addicted to reading and to writing. So for me those are two spiritual practices. But specifically reading about God and faith. Writing has always been my way of processing and meaning-making, and i find that when i write more, life makes more sense. I have also come to realise that when i write daily devotions for my church something interesting happens: i set out to write ABOUT God. When i am in the writing process, i find that i am writing TO God. And when i read it back later, when it’s all done, i discover that God was writing TO ME! I am so amazed and thankful every time
Another deeply spiritual practice for me, is taking photographs. Especially using my camera to discover the beauty in the ordinary.
When i am not reading, writing, or taking photos, then i am not really breathing. When life has swept me up in the tsunami of busyness, and i have not connected with God in one of those ways, i can feel the darkness growing in my soul. But the good news is that a few days of connecting helps me to feel anchored again.
Wow, Jackie! Thank you for sharing your experience! This is profound and moving!!
I resonate with the sense of connection to the divine through creativity – which is pretty much what all your above practices are connected to, right?
I hope you find that your opportunities to read, write, and take photographs increases, while the busyness that robs you of those opportunities decreases!
Love your spiritual practices Jackie – they resonate with me too.
I am also trying to be intentional and consistent in sitting quietly and “practicing being present” every day. When I am able to fully step myself in “now” it is like being embraced by a powerful spiritual awareness…
I have come to appreciate the value of running in my spiritual practice. My mind is uninhibited in what the mystery of an an ever growing world is opening my heart to. I get to witness the things i normally take for granted unfold and often I find myself asking about how the miracle of nature can still unfold without much contribution from me. When I’m running I feel unrestrained. It is a presence experience
This is so beautiful, MiaChloe! Thank you for sharing!
I find that nature is great humbler – that this amazingly complex and beautiful world exists and grows and creates life with no human intervention really puts things into perspective. And for the mindful, it can bring a deeper connection to the Life-Energy that moves this evolving universe forward into deeper connection and deeper complexity.
It’s also interesting for me that you find this through running. I’ve heard of other runners who find running to be a spiritual practice. I love how many different avenues there are into spirituality. 🙂
Writing and journalling are helpful tools for me but, I confess, I seldom make enough time to see any lasting project through. Walking the Labyrinth does good things for me. I appreciate being able to bring a dilemma, thought, plan, goal, etc. to God during my walk and, at times, the promptings I receive during the ‘outward journey’ are valuable. The closest Labyrinth is an hour’s drive away so I do not get to it often. We did create one during Holy Week 2020 in our ‘downstairs room’ using our shoes and I do walk it from time to time. It is small and indoors but there have been a few good moments – especially the online Tenebrae Service we conducted in it.
I have also found the labyrinth to be a very helpful spiritual tool. I have learned to appreciate using a finger labyrinth when I have been unable to get to labyrinth that I can walk. Like you, I have received some very helpful insights on the outward journey.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jenny.
I’ve always been a walker but had to stop for a whole due to knee and ankle problems. Thankfully icannow, walk freely again and enjoy the spiritual journey that it gives me. I too take lots of photos which I’m sometimes happy with and sometimes not, but they always bring the remembrance of reality back and that’s a blessing too. I tend to then let my phone turn them into collages which I love. I share them with a particular friend and the blessing goes round. Jo