Friday, September 18, 2009

Spiritual Practices

I have been doing a lot of study on the concept of spiritual practices. I think we tend to think of spiritual practices in terms of Bible study, prayer, and fasting. If you were to ask most church-goers to talk about spiritual practices, you probably wouldn't get much more than this. But there is so much more to be considered.

Taking a Sabbath is a spiritual practice.

Listening to music or a sermon can be spiritual practices.

Reading a book can be a spiritual practice.

Spending time alone in silence can be a spiritual practice.

Eating can be a spiritual practice.

Breathing can be a spiritual practice.

My Sunday night small group is going to spend this semester considering what it means to engage in spiritual practices, so I've wanted to get through as much research as I could. One of the best books that I've found that speaks to this is Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton.

I'm curious about something. If you're reading this, what are your thoughts? What are some things that you have learned to engage in a spiritual way that you never would have previously categorized as "spiritual" before? How big does this category of spiritual practices get?

*EDIT: Just after I posted this, I read this quote from Henri Nouwen: "Precisely because our secular milieu offers us so few spiritual dsciplines, we have to develop our own. We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others. But with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to him in whose Name we minister." (this is from The Way of the Heart)

Once again, Nouwen brings the thunder.


Nancy - said...

Great post.

Sometimes when at stoplights I just look around... and get 'in the moment'. I just started doing this recently - well, with intention.
I think that would be a spiritual practice for me.
Thanks for letting me see that for what it is.

Nancy - said...

I don't think your name is on this blog.

caroline said...

shows like project runway, etc. I'm sure that sounds really silly, but I really admire people that can imagine things up, use their hands and make it come to life. It's amazing and creative and I totally feel the spiritual connection when I watch it happen...

Being Beth said...

for the last several years I've said that I've learned more about myself, my life, my capacity to give, love, and heal through dogs and trees. Sitting under a tree with my dogs nose resting on my knee is probably one of the truest and honest spiritual things I do.

Strange as it may sound, ironing my husbands shirts is another spiritual respite. There's something about standing still, the scent of hot cotton wafting up into my face, and gliding the iron over the fabric until it is smooth that informs my soul that no matter how crumpled my life may seem, the wrinkles can be ironed out. I've found solutions to some of my toughest problems while ironing (and if not solutions, at least I've always found a way to be at peace during that hour it takes me to iron).