"By far the greatest part of the spiritual life is out in the world, making it beautiful and drawing out its sacredness." — Thomas Moore, author
Many years ago when, as a young adult, the spiritual life became real to me, I ran into an experience common to the spiritual newbie.
Intoxicated by all the positive feelings and emotions that arose from searching for the Ineffable in my life and the world around me, my spiritual practice turned inward. It was all about me and God. No one else mattered. Maybe it's not that they didn't matter, it's just that they lived safely on the periphery of my understanding and consciousness.
This is a false spirituality, one I must continue to guard against, if I truly want to dwell in the Living God and for the Living God to work through me.
When we are genuinely rooted in the mysterious Spirit that animates all of life, we first come to experience that Spirit at the core of our existence. This is necessary if we are to move on to the next, ultimate realization: We are all connected in that same Spirit, and as such we have a responsibility toward one another.
I will always be an inward-focused person. This is natural to me, and solitude and spending time with my own thoughts re-energizes me when I am tired. It is what drives me as a writer, and dare I say, many other writers. But it has only been since I have made an effort to take my spirituality and share it with the world around me that its fruits have multiplied abundantly.
In my own life, this has meant sharing my faith through multiple avenues — this column being one, but also through proclaiming the Word of God at Mass, and occasionally giving talks about spiritual and religious matters. In your life, it will likely manifest in an entirely different way.
Gerard Manley Hopkins famously wrote "the world is charged with the grandeur of God." As we contemplate Thomas Moore's words at the beginning of this column, we begin to realize it is uniquely within each one of us to draw out that grandeur, to make the world that is reachable by our senses be filled with the sacredness that underlies it.
Like Moses standing before the Burning Bush, the luminosity of God's existence then becomes visible to us, if only for a moment. But if we file that moment away in our heart's memory, it will be with us wherever we go, and whenever we need to draw upon it.
- SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.