Think, feel, be do—nurturing a well-rounded spiritual life

This article appeared in the Sept. 20, 2020 issue of the “Marathon Mercury”.

Last week I wrote about ways we can prepare ourselves for the impending loneliness of the winter months. Novel coronavirus has caused us to rethink how we live, how we can achieve a balanced and healthy life. This week I want to talk about ways we can do that in our spiritual lives.

Some of you may be long-time churchgoers, others may not have a worship community in town for their particular faith expression. Whether you’re an at-home Buddhist, a cradle-to-grace United Church-goer, lapsed Lutheran, or solo Sikh, we all have one thing in common right now. Mainly, that our spiritual lives are being lived out almost exclusively at home. There has been a return, for some, to worshipping spaces, but not everyone feels comfortable returning to in-person worship and not every faith community is ready to reopen. We also don’t know what the next few months will hold. We may very well see a return to Stage 2 in Ontario. That said, let’s take a look at what spirituality is and how you can nurture a well-rounded spiritual life at home.

Mary Anne Huddleston, a writer and spiritual director, suggests there are four main types of spirituality (meaning the way we live out our faith in day-to-day life). We have activities that focus on thinking, feeling, being and doing. You’re probably naturally inclined to one or two of these. Maybe you enjoy books and sermons on faith-topics, you’re drawn to discussions and ideas. Others might find a deep well in silence and contemplative prayer, even walking in the woods alone. Some types of spirituality will be easier for you, others harder. Some you may be used to practicing with a group and aren’t sure how to do it alone. Here are some at-home practices to engage all different types of spirituality.

Think: Set aside some time each week to read a book by a spiritual thinker or leader you admire. Listen to a podcast about faith and find a friend who might enjoy chatting about it over the phone. Find a lecture series on YouTube that touches on topics you’re curious about. Pick an age-appropriate discussion question for your family to wonder about over dinner (there are lots of season family devotionals available).

Feel: If you miss communal singing why not make a playlist of favourite worshipful music? Put it on and belt the songs out in your kitchen while you wash dishes. Find a friend who you can make a weekly date to check-in with about your spiritual life, someone you’d feel comfortable praying with. Start a journal where you can explore how you’re feeling this season, and wonder about where God is in your life today, or set aside time to draw/paint as a response instead.

Be: Being is as easy as breathing for some, and excruciatingly painful for others. Some just need to set aside the time for stillness, others might need to use a guided meditation or instrumental music to help mediate the moment. Being can also mean stopping to appreciate the moment. You can set a daily reminder to stop and focus on a feeling of gratitude. You can also make a point of getting out to the places that fill you with awe.

Do: COVID-19 has made this a bit more challenging since many volunteer opportunities we might have enjoyed before are now on-hold. However, I’m sure you can think of different ways you can do good works for others, whether it’s supporting our local Food Bank, helping out your neighbours, connecting with a lonely relative, or supporting our local front-line workers. All it takes is a little creativity and some heart.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Or, that they’ve sparked a new idea of ways you can nurture your spiritual life at home. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to be spiritual, it’s your practice so find what works for you.

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