Wednesday, February 16, 2005

What Feeds Your Soul?

It has become increasingly common for people in our society to either reject their family of origin's religion or to more passively disengage from it. Despite this trend, spirituality becomes a major concern for people who are at the end of their life - if not consciously, subconciously. Religious heritage can complicate spiritual distress. As Dr. Martin Mary of the University of Chicago states,

"The more a seccular or pluralistic society has come to think of itself as distanced from its religious roots, the more it has become evident that these roots are long, deep, entangling, possibly nurturing and possibly strangling."

What does it mean to be spiritual?

In a recent lecture I heard on spiritual care for the dying, the speaker divided spiritual expressions into traditional religious and personal practice. I'm sure we are all more familiar with what showed up on the list of traditional religious spiritual expression, but I was fascinated (though not surprised when I thought about it for a second) by what showed up on the list of personal practices of spiritual expression.

-playing music
-listening to music
-creating art
-viewing art
-helping people

Think about the activities that you engage in that aren't necessarily required for your survival (though those may be a spiritual experience for you as well). How do they make you feel? Do they feed your soul? Do these activities give you hope, meaning, strength, peace, a sense of love? How would you feel if they were taken away from you?

If you have a religious practice, do you belong to a congregation or faith group community? If so, do you look to that group for support when life gets you down?

About a year ago, I picked up the book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. I had realized that I'd stopped painting and how much I'd missed it. An artist friend had recommended this book to me, hoping it would bring me inspiration. Turned out, I picked up the paint brush (thanks to a new friend who literally put a paint brush in my hand) before I even finished the first chapter. But I noticed this book lying by my bed last night and flipped through it. Apparently, Julia Cameron couldn't agree more with this new definition of spirituality.

"Artists throughout the centuries have spoken of 'inspiration,' confiding that God spoke to them or angels did. In our age, such notions of art as a spiritual experience are seldom mentioned. And yet, the central experience of creativity is mystical. Opening our souls to what must be made, we meet our Maker."

Do you consider yourself a spiritual person? Whether yes or no, tell me - what feeds your soul?

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