‘IT’S PERSONAL’ BLOG
How are you meeting your spiritual needs? How are you nourishing your soul?
As a pastor I ask these questions a lot, but especially to folks who seem stressed out, overly busy, burdened by everyday problems, or who seem to be drifting away from church. They are also good questions to keep in mind over the summer, as many of us travel and tend to get distracted from our spiritual lives.
Like physical health, spiritual health needs our attention and priority if we are to enjoy lives that are strong, balanced and joyful.
We know that if we never exercise, our bodies will become unhealthy. We will suffer, and our lives will be filled with pain.
Your spirit needs exercise, too! The best way to stay in spiritual shape is to pray daily, both informally (for instance, when you are diving) and formally (with hands folded, head bowed, as at mealtime or bedtime).
And at least once a week go to the “gym” where you can get a spiritual workout. You know I’m talking about church. Worship with your brothers and sisters, hear the Word of God proclaimed in music, Scripture and sacrament.
For advanced spiritual exercises you can meditate, engage in lectio divina, fast for a few hours, join a Bible study, engage in service, embrace generosity as a discipline, practice love or just day sit in holy silence for a few minutes each day.
And how about your spiritual diet? For our physical health, we know that eating doughnuts, cookies, pizza and ice cream all the time will make us sick. We need to feed our spirit good stuff, too.
The Bible provides the best spiritual nourishment. Like an apple a day, a little Bible a day goes a long way to keeping you healthy and strong spiritually. Many denominational websites can send you a daily Bible verse!
Supplement your Bible readings with a daily devotion of some sort. Bookstores sell books of niche devotionals targeted to Christians of every interest. Lots of websites offer daily devotions as well.
Thanks to online resources, you can probably find everything you need without too much trouble. Just go to a spiritual website you find suits your tastes and values, and chances are you can find some devotionals. For instance, I like the website of Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace, and receive from them a daily email with a Bible verse, a quote from a spiritual writer, a prayer and links to articles I might like to read.
Spiritual health needs our constant attention, especially in the summer. When we go on vacation, it’s easy to go on vacation from God, as well.
So this summer, work hard at your spiritual health. Pray daily. Read Scripture. Attend church when you can. Nourish your soul on good material. Here are some suggestions for summer reading:
The Gospel of Luke. For churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary, we are now in the year of Luke, Year C, when we will hear his words regularly in church. Read the whole Gospel and be inspired!
The Shack, by William Paul Young. The novel is a fanciful depiction of the Holy Trinity. It’s definitely challenging, and I hope inspirational, too!
New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton. An American monk and mystic, Merton describes a spiritual life in short, inspiring chapters.
Other pastors have recommended the following to me, so I have put them on MY summer spiritual reading list:
Pastor Brian suggests REJEUS by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, and The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley.
Pastor Tom suggests Unbinding the Gospel, by Martha Grace Reese; The Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet; Almost Christian: What the faith of teenagers is telling the American church, by Kenda Creasy Dean; and O me of little faith- the confessions of a spiritual weakling, by Jason Boyett.
What do you read to nourish your soul? Let me know and I’ll share it with everyone else!
“Yoga Woman” Creative Commons Photo Credit: Adria Richards, www.flickr.com/photos/adriarichards/2798736890/