By Eugene C. Scott
I’ve spent many brilliant mornings fly fishing. Why I remember that early summer morning on the Blue River, I’m not sure. I don’t remember catching any fish. But I can still see the rising sun clipping the tops of the Gore Range. The water was cold. Soon the river glittered where the sun touched it. I wore only a shirt, shorts, and old tennis shoes. I missed a couple of Brown trout, then climbed out of the river, my legs and feet frozen.
The sun had clawed its way up into the bare blue sky and I lay in the grass and let it warm me. Though silent, the air seemed filled with words. The very molecules popped. “Look. Over here. And behind you. See. God spoke all this into being. Like poetry.”
It was a transformational moment. I was in my 20s and still had much transforming to do. I had seen God in creation before but this was different. God seemed active not passive, pushing, aware of me and wanting me to be aware of him. Maybe that was the day I woke–at least partially–to the idea that life is as much spiritual as material.
Some people would call that day on the river a spiritual moment. And so it was. But isn’t there more to being spiritual than watching captivating sunsets and mountain vistas? Otherwise being spiritual depends more on mood and circumstance than something we cultivate. As much as I would want to fly fish everyday–hoping to hook another God sighting–it’s not realistic or practical. And spirituality has to be realistic and practical.
And there’s the rub. Most of us struggle even defining what it means to be spiritual much less daily living it. What does it mean to be spiritual?
I think it means to connect with the God-created soul of things. A spiritual reading of Scripture means you hear God’s voice in the story rather than just gather God-information. When taking a walk in your neighborhood do you see homes in which people laugh, cry, hurt, are born and die or just houses? So too with sunsets, music, parties, people. They become spiritual when we see or hear that fourth God-dimension. Being aware of God sightings.
But even if that is a good starting definition, how does one connect with the soul of things? Harder yet, how do we do it daily?
For Christmas this year my son, Brendan, gave each of us six adults in our family a journal and asked that we daily write down one or more things: a blessing, something we are thankful for, or how we have experienced the Presence of God that day. As I wrote in my journal the first day, an interview I had read with A.J. Jacobs kept coming to mind. Jacobs wrote “The Year of Living Biblically,” where he chronicles his attempt to spend a year following “every single rule in the Bible–as literally as possible.”
It occurred to me that what Brendan was asking us to do was spend a year living spiritually. To look at life as if the spiritual is just as real and important as the physical. To see a relationship with God and the world he created as more than obeying rules. To try to peer beyond the obvious and see–as often as possible–that fourth dimension.
If imitation, then, is the sincerest form of flattery, I intend to flatter Jacobs and launch my own experiment: The Year of Living Spiritually: My attempt to live as if there is more to this world than we see.
Each week in 2012 I will record my quest in my blog: the stumblings, successes, questions, and answers (I hope) I discover as I put on my 4D Glasses and venture out into the world.
But I don’t like to travel alone. Here’s my question for you: would you join me? Will you not only read along, but will you go along? Share your insights? Invite friends? Will you too spend a year living spiritually?
Let me know.
Eugene C. Scott has pestered his friends about God sightings for years. He most recently spotted God in his 2–almost 3-year-old grand daughter who said, “Papa, Papa, watch me.” Then she drank a glass of water making a funny gurgling sound. When she finished, she looked at him as if she had just climbed Mount Everest. It dawned on Eugene that God gets delight out of us seeing him too in the mundane ordinary things. Eugene also co-pastors The Neighborhood Church and likes to write fiction.
15 responses to “2012: The Year of Living Spiritually”
love the 4D glasses!,…bbl,…(-:
Since I have “a lot on my plate” at the moment, I’ll attempt to make brief statements of things that come to mind.
From my own personal observations of “places” people/friends/Christians seem to become “stuck” in — spinning their wheels, habits that hold them captive to repetitive patterns and earthly “things” that one begins to feel are NOT particularly spiritual (not to imply that they are “evil”) — have a similar characteristic that becomes kind of obvious over time: self-centeredness.
To me this kind of subtly creeps up on folks whose “spiritual roots” might not actually be as “deep” as they might think they are. They retain some “perpetual lingo” that pertains to God, but more and more the actual focus of their conversation is the ways they seek to please and/or serve or occupy themselves. I’m surprised they don’t notice it themselves,…it becomes boring to me, but they carry right on.
The parable of the sower comes to mind:
3″And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
10And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
17For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
18Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
My prayer could be “to be good ground for the Word of God.”
Georgie: I hope you can see God and the spiritual even in all the things you have on your plate and feel free to chime in as briefly as needed. Eugene
brilliant! I will be following…may all of us be inviting people to to this deep adventure. 🙂
Thanks, Barbara. I hope it calls us all deeper. Eugene
The thought of “continuing to be receptive” comes to mind, rather than assuming or presuming that “one has arrived.”
Georgie: That’s it in a nutshell: continuing to be receptive.
Yes, please. Btw what a cool gift your son gave all of you.
I thought so too–about the gift. It has also led to several good family conversations so far. Thanks for wanting to join in on the journey. Any thing you want to add, please feel free. Eugene
Good stuff, Eugene. In addition to having 2012 Resolution to be a year of “Living Spiritually” I also plan to ‘join the blogosphere’ and will read and contribute to yours. Like you, I tend to feel closer to God in the beauty of His creation—in the mountains, along the beach, etc.–, but as I get older am feeling closer to God in the fellowship of good and Godly people. Relationships are the only thing on earth that we bring with us to the eternal and as such, that is what we should be spending most of our time and energy on in this brief life.
Thanks, Eddie. Great to hear from you. I can’t wait to interact with you over this. Sounds like a great way to reconnect. And, of course would love to see you and Sandra and the kids. Wow. Can’t believe I’m saying that about “kids.”
another thought: what do I love? what occupies/pre-occupies me? is it God (really) or something else? how much am I focused on my own self?
learning to ask questions that draw us to look/examine deeper, is both important and helpful actually,…realizing that we are subjected to many bad examples, culturally speaking, is a good thing, and understanding where they go wrong is even better,…we can learn to do this without “hating the sinner” yet being able to analyze and understand the subtle inner workings of sin,…it can be very illuminating,…and freeing,…
go for it!
Since a couple of people have mentioned a predilection for the great outdoors for their “God-seeking moments,” I would confirm that also in my own experience, especially when I was younger. I’m not sure if it is the “cosmic sense” one can encounter, or just getting away from everyone and everything else, or both, but it certainly has played a significant part in my own “God searching.”
However, I’ve found that God also does not want us to feel that we can nail Him down in a predictable servant-to-us fashion. At one point I can remember craving “a personal moment” with God in just that way — I was living in a large city, and as nice as it was, it was still too tamed, predictable, and down-right civilized for the unexpected to easily happen. I did manage to “slip away” for some private time in a wooded park, but not only was the experience rather disappointing and further discouraging, but I got a whopping case of poison ivy on top of everything else! Oh, woe was me!
I’ve mentioned before that many Catholic Church settings have provided “sacred space” opportunities for me that have brought many blessed moments, (and are also usually safe from noxious weeds!)
Romans 8:28 … “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Georgie: Love that “God-seeking moments.” The Catholic Church does a much better job than most Protestant churches at sacred space. I am finding I need that space more and more.