“Spirituality lets meaning flow into daily life.”
– David Stendahl-Rast
Spirit is here and spirit is now. As Thomas Merton said, “We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the Divine is shining through it all the time.” This means at home, at work, in the mall, sitting under the redwoods, playing baseball or sitting on a meditation cushion. In any moment we can wake up and know spirit. Every situation in our life can be seen from the limited perspective of the personality or the unlimited view of the soul.
What if your noisy next door neighbor or the grumpy clerk at Whole Foods were your spiritual teachers, offering lessons that are exactly what you need? Perhaps an important spiritual lesson for you, with regard to your neighbor, is learning how to speak difficult truths without blame or attack. Or perhaps your lesson is acceptance of ‘what is so.’ If you choose to live there, you may need to accept having less of the idyllic quiet you had hoped for. Is it possible that the nursing home where you read stories to your aunt every Saturday is your school for unconditional love? Could weeding in the backyard be a perfect mindfulness practice? My daughter, Heidi, is one of my greatest teachers. I am ever inspired by her deep spirituality and her ability to face some difficult health challenges with wisdom and strength. In addition to what I learn just by watching her, she unknowingly teaches me how to let go of control and learn to be steady and patient in the face of difficulty.
In learning to integrate the finite and the infinite, a kitchen becomes a temple, the family photo album, a gallery of spiritual teachers. Work becomes an arena in which to practice presence, boundaries or respect for others. In and through these everyday arenas, we learn to cultivate soul qualities. Conflict within the family and the workplace becomes the rich compost for new growth. We teach our children to be polite and they teach us to get real, let our hair down and have more fun. Balancing the checkbook and creating monthly spending plans are ways that we demonstrate responsibility for our resources.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we’re going to like all of our relatives or that we’ll leap for joy when we get a jury summons or a pay cut. We still have personalities that will naturally struggle in the face of losses and daily frustrations. But it does mean that we can bring a spiritual perspective to our lives by looking for the lessons in every event and regarding each person as a spiritual friend or teacher.
Everyday Spiritual Teachers
Choose two people in your life, one with whom you enjoy a relatively easy relationship and another person that is more difficult for you to deal with.
Write about each relationship in response to the following questions with the consideration that this person is in your life to teach you some valuable lessons.
- What are you learning from this person about yourself, your spirituality, etc.?
- How are you integrating what you’re learning into your daily life?