The Significance of Space

Lately I’ve been thinking about the significant of place.

Asking myself questions about where I am at in my journey – looking at how far I have come, asking why I am not further – figuring out what steps I need to take to grow, transform, and awaken my soul.

I got finished reading “Pilgrimage of a Soul” by Phileena Heuertz. And it is a GREAT book. I really related to it in a number of significant ways. But what struck me as she told her story and shared about her journey out of darkness was that much of it took place on a pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago in Spain and during a sabbatical in North Carolina.

Spirituality would be a whole lot easier if we didn’t have to tease it out in our normal routine.

When I think back on my most profound spiritual experiences, they have taken place camping in a tent underneath a waterfall in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland; watching the sunset against the red rocks in Las Vegas, Nevada; or sitting in the presence of a suffering man in a leper colony in Kathmandu, Nepal.

But each time I come back from those experiences, I slip right back into routine at home and get frustrated losing half of all the progress I’ve made. Sometimes it feels like I need to “go away” in order to make any real significant headway in my spiritual growth.

I just started reading the book “The Solace of Fierce Landscapes” by Belden Lane. First of all, amazing. I have only made it through two chapters, so there is only so much I can say about the book at this point – but I am fairly certain I will be encouraging you all to buy it! In the introduction as he begins to talk about mountain and desert landscapes he says, “Growth in the spiritual life requires adopting a conscious ‘habit of being.’ Far too easily do we embrace the illusion that changing places is the simplest way of changing ourselves.”

And that’s exactly it!

As I embark on this journey of awakening and transformation coming out of this long season of darkness I've been in, I can’t help but feel that things would be easier, or at least faster, if I were not in my normal everyday routine. If I were able to just get away for a 4-month sabbatical or go on a pilgrimage across the highlands of Scotland. If I were able to escape all that constantly frustrates me, and drags me down, and causes me to lose my patience, and those things I lust and obsess over. But you can’t ever escape it. And even if you are lucky enough to get a sabbatical or embark on a pilgrimage, you have to come home sometimes. So you have to learn to develop a spirituality that can survive.

I spent just one day at the Center for Action and Contemplation with Fr. Richard Rohr last week and really enjoyed some of the contemplative routines he implemented throughout the day. He started the day with several minutes of centering prayer. Throughout the day a timer was set so every 20 minutes a bell chimed and the whole class stopped for just 5-10 seconds to pause, detach, and center ourselves from wherever our focus was back on God. And our afternoon break was a 30-45 minute contemplative walk around the neighborhood – trying to clear our minds. Fr. Rohr said to us “don’t think, just look” – and this is a very hard practice to learn. But I want to learn. And I need to learn – to begin to implement new routines in my life to nurture my soul in the everyday.

What are some of your favorite routines that help you to detach and reconnect with God in the midst of the chaos? 


/dave said...

yes, so good and so true!

I think one of the greatest challenges is to find God in the midst of the ordinary. The ordinary space, the ordinary time we inhabit most of the seven days of our week.

For me...gardening, walking up and down the street, talking to neighbors...are ways I "recenter" in the midst of a crazy schedule. Very ordinary things, but reminders that there's more going on than just my little life and my little schedule.

WanderingellimaC said...

thanks /dave. gardening is something i've wanted to get more into! i think the connection with creation/earth is an important one. and it couldn't hurt to meet (most of) my neighbors. :)