By Kathleen Potts, Rector/Guest Columnist
The Picayune Item
Spirituality, for me, means communion with God through prayer, meditation, contemplation and directed silent retreats.
To hear the voice of God, solitude of soul is required. As each of us knows, our world today is too noisy. We are bombarded with so much sound that it is difficult to discern the voices of friends and family members much less the voice of God.
Discernment and acceptance of God’s voice demands more than a moment of silence. It requires a lifetime commitment that integrates our spiritual communion with God and our earthly humanness with humankind.
To accomplish this, one has to create a routine disciplined prayer life that centers itself in seeking to hear God’s voice. As Jesus taught us “Ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” (Luke 11:9)
One could say that we have enough prayer in our lives with the personal and communal prayers we say each day and those we proclaim during our church services. Yes, these are prayers. They are communal prayers essential to our spiritual formation. They nurture and feed our collective and individual souls. But, they are not enough to satisfy our individual spiritual hunger.
As Marjorie J. Thompson states in Soul Feast, “We are like the prodigal son of Jesus’ parable — children far from home and starving. Have we decided to go home? If so, what path will set us toward the destination of our Creator’s heart? Where do we turn to find nourishment for the parched places of our souls?” (Pg. 12)
It is interesting to note that the reawakening of my spiritual relationship with God happened during my husband’s long illness and subsequent death. It seemed that my husband’s death march caused me to search for a peace of soul I had not known I was missing. It led me back to making annual retreats where silence was the food for the soul. I once again found guidance and growth from differing forms of spiritual exercises that included the “Spiritual Exercises” of Ignatius, the “Rule of St. Benedict”, Zen-Buddhist meditation practices, the “Contemplative Prayer” of Thomas Merton, and “Centering Prayer” of Thomas Keating.
Along with contemplative and meditative prayer, this awakening nurtured other prayer forms of the soul (i.e., journaling, and soul writing in the form of poetry). Also, I was also led back to the practice of spiritual direction.
It is amazing how dry my soul was and how ignorant I was of this fact. As Mark A. McIntosh shares in “Mystical Theology:”
“I had separated thought from feeling, form from content, and theory from practice.” (Pg. 4) I had spoken volumes to God. Unfortunately, I had not allowed God the same length of time to speak with me. I was in such a hurry to survive that I forgot I needed food to sustain me.
“Thus, if I have learned anything about my own spirituality, it is that I have to practice it every day. Prayer is not an option. It is a daily requirement of my soul. Understanding and self-growth requires involvement, practice, and participation.”