I would not use the word “easy” or “ease” to describe my experience of being a spiritual person (at least in the first 4 decades of my life).
The opposite would be more accurate: my spirituality and faith were strengthened not by ease, but through testing, struggle, complexity, and hardship. *sigh*
Or so I was told and taught.
I didn’t choose this way of understanding things. It was inherent and assumed. It was what I believed. I didn’t know — or know to know — anything other. And I complied!
There were long seasons of my life in which I had a perpetual list of spiritual to-do’s in order to prove myself worthy and faithful; to feel or be spiritual at all. I worked at it. I strived toward it. And I felt an inordinate amount of shame when my efforts didn’t transform me or my life.
Despite the fact that I’ve left organized religion, studied and rejected predominant theologies, and deconstructed / reconstructed a completely different way of believing and being, I still long for the sacred, for the spiritual, for its consistency and constancy.
In conversation with clients, I see the sacred everywhere: in a word used more than once, in a sentence spoken, in a breath taken, in a memory, in a hope expressed or desire stated, in a thought articulated, in a glimpse…I feel a bit like a sleuth or a detective. Watching for the glimmers. Seeing the clues. Revealing what almost always resides between the lines. And naming every bit of it as the presence of the sacred on their behalf. Right there. All the time. In plain sight. Easy.
Amazingly, nothing was required of them for the sacred to show up. No rigor or discipline. No pursuit of perfection. No need for forgiveness or atonement. The sacred was — and is — right there, all the time, in plain sight. Easy.
Ironically, despite what I spot and celebrate on behalf of others, I still struggle to find it for myself. And…that’s the problem in and of itself: I’m looking for it. I’m struggling. I’m making it hard. When, in fact, it is not — and never was.
There is another question that lingers underneath this one about “ease” that is far more primary and significant: Does the sacred and spirituality actually matter?
I have my own thoughts, to be sure. Thankfully, others have considered the same.
The original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.~ Frederick Buechner
So, the spiritual and sacred is me NOT putting on or taking off my other selves. It is 100% myself, 100% of the time, and constantly shimmering! Not with effort, hard work, discipline, or the slightest hint of shame. Instead, with ease. Yes, this matters.
You create a path of your own by looking within yourself and listening to your soul, cultivating your own ways of experiencing the sacred and then practicing it. Practicing until you make it a song that sings you. ~ Sue Monk Kidd
“…a song that sings you;” a song that sings me. Yes, that’s it — perfectly. And once heard, then practiced. Not from a place of demand, but desire. Yes, this matters.
Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.~ Joseph Campbell
Exactly. Not a self that I have to contrive or control, push myself toward, aspire to. Just me. Easy. Completely at home. (I’m taking deep breaths at the thought of this one.) Yes, this matters.
So, can spirituality be easy? My answer and lived-experience is that if it is not, then it’s not a spirituality I need or want.
Does it matter? My answer and lived-experience is “yes.” And why? Well, because at the end of the day, it’s what I want.
I do want a spirituality, a lived-experience of the sacred — but only when it’s defined by ease. Not because I’m lazy or unwilling to do the work, but because it must be something that doesn’t require my efforting or discipline or struggle. It can’t require me at all, actually. It is bigger than me, something that holds and encircles me, a story that’s larger than my own, an unshakeable awareness and belief that I am not alone. And so much more. It doesn’t need my belief, my diligence, even my commitment to be enduring, true, and worthwhile. Right there. All the time. In plain sight. Easy.
May it be so, yes?
I hope the same for you.
I hope that you will let go of all the shoulds and musts and dogma and to-do’s. I hope that you will be surprised by the sacred — in a breath, in a thought, in a glimpse, in a real or imagined conversation, in questions-without-answers, and most of all, in you being fully you. I hope that you will find what you’ve wanted all along. Right there. All the time. In plain sight. Easy.
Indeed, may it be so.
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