I am not talking about religion or a religious belief. Although I sincerely hope you will carefully think about any belief system you choose to get involved with.
Spirituality is something quite different from religion or a religious belief. In fact, there are many definitions of spirituality. The University of Minnesota reports:
Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.
Some may find that their spiritual life is intricately linked to their association with a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. Others may pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Still others seek meaning through their connections to nature or art. Like your sense of purpose, your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships. (1)
Georgetown University states that spirituality:
…refers to a broad set of principles that transcend all religions. Spirituality is about the relationship between ourselves and something larger. That something can be the good of the community or the people who are served by your agency or school or with energies greater than ourselves. (2)
It is more than a religious set of beliefs and rules to live by. Every one of us can define spirituality differently. We are all unique, even though we have many similarities in culture, race, gender, sexual orientation or education. But every one of us can be moved by the crashing of waves on a rocky shore or stilled by the beauty of a sunset. As much as I hate the cold and snow of winter, I love the perfection of a fresh snowy blanket covering the world outside my window. I carry a camera with me to capture the blossoms of trees in the spring, to seek out Canada Geese with their fledglings in tow throughout the summer as they grow, and the magic of the color of the leaves before they wend their way to the ground in the fall. Then I love to listen to the crunch of them under my feet, as I walk through them. I can sit and watch the birds or the squirrels in their rituals of play and food gathering or even to study the way an ant meanders across a sidewalk, seemingly to get nowhere, but knowing he will eventually find his way back to his anthill. There is nothing in the world like holding a newborn baby for the first time or to see his first smile or help her take her first steps.
To me, all these things are part of the spirituality I have within me; I share with the world around me. These things are all around us to enjoy and even bring us peace in times of sorrow or they can uplift us sparking new-found energy in times of weary tiredness.
It isn’t just what we see but it can include what we touch (softness of silk on our skin or the warmth of a soothing bath), smell (apple pie fresh from the oven), taste (our favorite mix of salty and sweet), hear (favorite music or the laughter of a child), or sense (that someone you love is close).
The trick is to stop every now and then to simply enjoy the world around us. Connect to that part of us that enjoys simple pleasures of not only the physical world around us but good food and good friends or family to share it with.
For me these are all opportunities to connect with that spiritual part of myself that can too easily get lost in the busyness of life. Take a moment and enjoy your world. It doesn’t matter if it is the scene outside your window or a picture on your wall or a few words that encourage and strengthen you.
There is a Navajo blessing that says: “May you walk in beauty”. To a Navajo it is both the path you travel and what surrounds you on the path.
My wish for you all as we come to the close of 2016 is this simple line that can help you connect to the spiritual side of you.
May you walk in beauty