“…Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations…’
-3rd UU Principle
The holy grail is defined as “the cup or platter used by Jesus at the Last Supper.” It is also defined as “a thing that is being earnestly pursued or sought after.”
Throughout my life, I have been on any number of spiritual journeys. I have conducted a long inquiry into whatever it is that seems to elude me. At the start of each new journey, I am passionately convinced that I have found my “holy grail”.
I remember very vividly the first of such moments.
I was in my local library and I discovered the book, Chop Wood, Carry Water. I was in my early teens and searching for “the secret something” that my inner voice seemed to be nudging me about. It was, in a very real way, my first foray into looking more deeply at my human experience. This book remains on my bookshelf today. It resides there as a sort of touchstone; reminding me of the first step on what would turn out to be a very long journey with few definitive answers and no end in sight. I pulled it down from the shelf for the first time in a long time this past week and read the dedication which says, “For all of those, past, present and future, who make everyday life an adventure of the spirit.”
In the years that followed that first discovery, I moved on to The Celestine Prophecy, The Course in Miracles, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Oprah, tarot cards, crystals etc. You name it, I endeavored to make it part of my journey. I have long been fascinated with not only searching for my own path, but curious to know about the paths of others and of their spiritual experiences. I have spent countless hours reading book after book, and scouring the internet to quench my thirst for spiritual enlightenment.
This past December, a few days before the New Year, I was sitting on my patio on a particularly warm winter night and I found myself once again searching. The year prior had felt challenging at times. I had spent considerable time in the service of family members who needed me in one way or another, I had invested purposefully in engaging more fully in my relationships both personal and professional, I had worked to grow in the vocations of my life. I confess that in that moment of reflection, I felt drained by it all. And then, suddenly, there was divine intervention. A new holy grail! It was so easy. Why had I not seen it before? All that I had to do was to love myself more deeply. To honor myself more openly. For that fleeting moment, it all seemed so clear to me. And then, as quickly as the holy grail came to me, it was gone again with the arrival of yet another question: “How?” How exactly do I go about honoring myself?
When it comes to the holy grail of my life, I have learned one thing over the years: Easy come, easy go.
I carried the question of “how” back into my everyday routine as I once again encountered the challenges and blessings present in my life. I encountered people who challenged me, and people who inspired me, and people who needed me and people who made me smile simply by coming into the room. I continued to support my family, to invest in my relationships, to find ways to grow in my work. I continued, in very tangible ways, to chop wood and carry water; to do the heavy lifting that life calls us to do. And while I was doing it, I tried to see how each situation was an opportunity for me to honor and love myself if I allowed it to be. That these tasks were put on my path so that I might grow and learn and continue the spiritual journey that I started long ago. To be fully aware that this work of the spirit can only exist when we are in communion with others; when we are accepting, encouraging and engaging in their journey as well as our own. When we are for one another “those who make everyday life an adventure of the spirit.”
Our earnest pursuits to grow our spirits will be as imperfect as they will be miraculous. For most of us, there will not be a single artifact or moment that will define our journey. Rather, the enlightenment that we gather will be a collection gained from a lifetime of exploration. It will be a never ending adventure: lesson to lesson, person to person, holy grail to holy grail.