Sunday, November 3, 2019

In the Lindisfarne Community everyone’s spirituality is equally valued.

In the Lindisfarne Community everyone’s spirituality is equally valued.

As I write this it is the closing morning of our weekend retreat on spirituality. We have had some great conversations together. One thing I realized is that, in one sense, spirituality is elusive, it defies a concrete definition. Even the quick google search we did in preparation for the weekend revealed that there are as many different definitions as there are websites trying to define it! Spirituality is an inward knowing which is hard to express through the limitations of language.

So, how would I try and define spirituality? My best attempt is to say that spirituality is an individual’s experience of connecting with the Divine, the Other. Yet, it is not simply reaching outward, there is a deep inner aspect. PsychologyToday acknowledges that spirituality is an “experience that involves [people] getting in touch with their spiritual selves through private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, or time in nature.”

At the retreat, on Saturday morning we talked about the many different aspects of spirituality. This was followed by Monos (alone time) where each person pondered their personal spirituality. In the afternoon we shared our musings. It was revealing, each person’s spirituality is perceived in a different way. Each person’s spirituality is deeply personal and meaningful. It was a helpful exercise as each person’s perception of spirituality broadened our understanding of spirituality.

So, I return to my introductory sentence as I feel it is important. In the Lindisfarne Community everyone’s spirituality is equally valued. People have different callings, different manifestations and different understandings, yet all are valid and all are meaningful. There is not a hierarchy of spirituality. 

What is important is that the spirituality embraced by each individual sustains them in their daily life.

I want to take just a brief glance at the lectionary reading. Today is the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10). I always smile as I read this story as it reminds me of the children’s Sunday School song we used to sing. 

“Zacchaeus was a very little man
And a very little man was he
He climbed into a sycamore tree
The Saviour for to see
And when the Saviour passed that way
He looked into the tree
‘Now, Zacchaeus, you come down
 I'm coming to your house for tea’”

As Spirituality is our topic for the weekend, (indeed for the whole year). I thought it would be interesting to cast a glance at Zacchaeus’ spirituality. What is the quality in Zacchaeus drawing him towards the Other?  Perhaps, that is the first aspect of his spirituality — he was drawn. There was something in him that was reaching out. It reads like it was almost a desperation. Imagine, a respected (possibly!) and rich businessman climbing a tree to get a better view of someone. Something in that action speaks of a lot of humility. 

Another aspect of his spirituality is that he was welcoming. He opened his home and heart to a stranger, albeit a well-known one. Finally, he assessed his life with a willingness to change. So, if I was going to define Zacchaeus’ spirituality in a few words I would say; drawing, humbling, welcoming and life-changing. 

Actually, those words pulled from Zacchaeus’ life form quite a good understanding of spirituality. Spirituality is that quality that draws us out of ourselves towards the Other. Spirituality reveals our limitations and we are humbled. Spirituality causes us to reach out and welcome others. Spirituality is always life-changing, not a big once in a lifetime event, but constantly, causing daily growth moving towards maturity.

In whatever way it is perceived spirituality is the bedrock, the foundation on which lives are lived. In the Lindisfarne community everyone’s spirituality is equally valued.