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Spirituality x Daily Life
Reflecting on everyday spirituality, I could write about the importance of daily practice. I could emphasize that exercise is no less essential for souls than for biceps, how spiritual growth takes discipline, how contemplative techniques open hearts, attune senses, and deepen wonder in the world. Sure, I believe all of that, more or less. But it’s not where my heart is pointing right now. I want to think, rather, about how daily practice can also mislead and muddle. Rituals can massage our egos, assure us that we’re checking the boxes of sacred living, and thereby smother the wildness of holiness.
Spirituality must be embodied, of course. But therein lies the tension. Sensory, somatic being is strangely elusive. Existence is in flow, dynamic, slipping through tentacles that try grasping too tightly. The ultimate question for a seeker, in my mind, is: Can I love? In other words, can I see beyond my own cerebral muck and petty games, can I belly laugh, can I cry, can I be moved and surprised? In part, this demands surrenders of control, which punctilious practice can help but also hinder. I like Walter Benjamin’s description of “that squandering of our own existence that we know in love,” which then paradoxically “throws us, without hoping or expecting anything, in ample handfuls toward existence.”
I write so many essays and lectures. But to express this spiritual abandon, I want to try another medium. Here’s a poem.
I stand knee deep in this
river unfurling across forest floors,
a voice saturating sound itself,
whispering shhhhhhhhhh but I
hear only the drum of
what passes away.
I want to perceive this river with every
cell of my self, to know and be
known until I am
filled and overflowing into
the current, but
I am so finite
I grab buckets and contain what I
can. White-knuckled, shallow-breathed, buckets
upon buckets litter the banks, exhibiting
mute dusty water while river flows
past, tickling granite, gurgling,
softening ancestral trees to soil.
My knees unbuckle and I descend
inside, dispersing like tea leaves, river
washing over all sweat, streaming between
fingers, between eyes, holding all
earthly breath, streaming,
streaming over me like
over everything else.