Living A Spirit-Filled Life
In life, the soul does not grow in the same way as the body, although we often speak as if it does. It’s a great gift, that as the body grows older and begins to lose strength, the soul gains strength—if we nourish our spiritual being. The mystery of spiritual growth occurs only if we are open to it.
We cannot live life fully being spiritually stagnant, merely functioning, lacking imagination, with knowledge but no wisdom, with little or no creativity, without the expression of art and music, without the pursuit of selfless love. The book of Psalms tells us, “If today you hear my voice, harden not your hearts.” We must listen, with our hearts and souls, in order to follow our true path, which is the path of love. Love cannot be extracted, commanded, demanded or wheedled. It can only be freely given.
I find inspiration in the writings of those who honor a spirit-filled life, including monks and philosophers—even occasionally, those who present themselves to the world as comedians. I collect writings that nourish my soul, and read them as a practice of meditation and reflection.
The comedian/philosopher George Carlin wrote this about life:
“We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there any more.
Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” ~George Carlin
These are indeed words worthy of reading again and again, reminding ourselves of what is most important in this precious life. Another writer who inspires me is Thomas Merton, a well-known Trappist monk who was a brilliant writer, spiritual master, and a man who embodied the quest for God and human solidarity.
He wrote one of my favorite prayers that speak to this pursuit:
Thoughts in Solitude
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. ~Thomas Merton
The ultimate abandonment of one’s role is not to have self as a fixed point of reference; it is the freedom to manifest God with selfless love through one’s uniqueness. We are all unique with a special gift, but we must discover that gift.
The great jazz composer and pianist Thelonius Monk wrote: “a genius is the one most like himself.” I think there is no more worthy goal in this life than to strive to be ourselves—our best selves, and always with attention to the pursuit of spirit. We know that we are on the right path when our actions in life are expressed as compassion, tenderness, concern for others, service, goodness, gentleness, forgiveness, and understanding.
John Wooden, the great UCLA basketball coach, and one of my favorite people, once said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” Remember the word “Illness” starts with the letter “I” and the word “Wellness” starts with the two letters “We.”
“In all we do pursue after Truth, Beauty, and Love.” ~Pope Francis