I’ve never been very good at maintaining a regular spiritual practice. I have tried many different techniques, from meditation to walking to journaling to … well, just about anything. Nothing sticks.
This year, partly to force me to develop a spiritual practice, partly to experience how the program works so I could decide whether to bring the program to us at UUCC or not, I enrolled in a year-long course called Wellspring. It’s a year of bi-weekly small group ministry meetings, similar to our UUCC Reflection Groups, on steroids. We meet every other week for two hours, completing readings to prepare and journaling to record our thoughts and feelings about the readings. We also agree to develop and maintain a daily spiritual practice. And we work with a spiritual advisor each month, another experience I knew nothing about.
Because I was used to almost daily walks, I thought I’d start with walking as a spiritual practice. It would keep me in shape, I was already practicing the activity frequently, so it didn’t feel like a stretch to commit to every day. So off I embarked on this adventure. Except that we had the rainiest autumn on record, and because I felt that walking with earphones while listening to audiobooks wasn’t spiritual enough, I tried to walk in silence, admiring nature (Columbia is a beautiful town, and my neighborhood full of trees and gardens and nature!) But walking in silence only encouraged my hamster brain to run wild. There was no peace in those walks; there was only stress over unfinished work and new ideas to consider and Too Much Rain to endure, all of which rapidly eroded my resolve and led to further guilty feelings because I was failing abysmally at my spiritual practice that everyone else in my group seemed to be able to maintain their practices without issue.
Bless my spiritual advisor, who talked me through my ideas of what a daily spiritual practice was and what I expected it to do for me and why I felt so strongly about maintaining one. It took us two months to figure out what would work for me, and when we finally did, I wept. The key was asking me what gave me joy.
Joy is an interesting concept. Experiencing joy changes me in unexpected ways. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant moments of joy shine brightly in my memory. And today’s world has been weighing heavily on me, making the moments of joy fewer and further between each instance. Being able to practice a daily spiritual practice that brought me joy felt like a significant accomplishment, and I am happy to report that since November, I have successfully continued my daily spiritual practice, found a bit more joy in my life, and calmed that busy wheel-spinning hamster brain with a sense of great relief.
With so much wrong in the world, finding small moments of joy is important. Developing a way to find that joy, even for a short period of time, encouraged me to look in other places in my life for additional moments of joy. And opening to the possibilities meant that I found more moments of transcendent joy. The possibilities seem endless.
As we begin a new year and enter the month of Possibilities, I wish for you to find moments of transcendent joy in your life. And let me know if you might be interested in trying Wellspring next year. You can read more about it here: https://uuwellspring.org/.
Yours in faith,