by Lexiann Grant
The upheaval of pandemic has certainly affected our spiritual lives and practices, each of us traveling different sections of disparate spiritual paths. Some of us likely are struggling to retain faith or belief. Many of us just may want to live for the moment to escape our troubles, setting aside spiritual routines to grab a little happiness when we can.
Others may be seeking spiritual renewal, while a few may be looking deeper, down the road of the mystic, longing for union with God, The One, The All. Or some have lost that once deep connection despite continued efforts to remain in contact with The Presence.
For me, when I lose that awareness, I am reminded that the mystic’s religious and spiritual life should not and must not be about myself, for my benefit alone.
Oswald Chambers explained it:
“Am I building up the body of Christ, or am I only concerned about my own personal development?
His plan means realizing Him not only in our lives individually, but also in our lives collectively.
Whenever I only want things for myself, the relationship is distorted.
We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy a quiet spiritual retreat.
We are here to have the full realization of Jesus Christ, for the purpose of building His body.
My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, not even blessing, but Himself…”
Do I seek union with God only so I can feel good? Will I remain disconnected from God until I get on board with The Plan and allow myself to be the vessel through which a blessing for others may come?
Regardless of where I am spiritually at any given moment, I persist with readings and prayers at the beginning and end of each day. And, despite what may be going badly in some of our lives, here we are, together as the Body of Christ in this Cafe, choosing to get up and embrace the spiritual life again today, to seek that joyful union.
Grab for happiness or strive for spiritual joy? What’s the difference? Happiness comes from the outside – eating chocolate, getting new shoes, reading a good book – and is temporary, fickle, fleeting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being happy. But we have to sustain happiness, it cannot sustain us.
However, joy flows from our inward selves, out to others as a sustainable, transcendent grace. One of the most uplifting things I have heard during my hours of pain or despair is that someone has prayed for me – “we are here for the purpose of building His body” – a goal of that mystical union that in turn brings us not only lasting joy, but peace, faith and awareness of the presence of God (and hopefully of his will for us).
Writing here, serving through spiritual grace, I am in community with those of you who read. In some small part, we share each other’s spiritual journey as we uphold each other through Christ’s virtual Body. In this community we can find renewal or perchance be led into that longed-for union with God that supersedes all other desires.
The Lord is surely in this space with each of us, whatever our present spiritual state.
May we be blessed with goose-bump-raising, sure and certain knowledge not just that there is a God, but that there Is God, that the Presence and Source of All that was and is, and is beyond all knowing, is known by and revealed in us.
“God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself; for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less that can be full honour to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less, ever Shall I be in want, for only in Thee have I all.”
— Julian of Norwich
Lexiann Grant is a retired writer & author, a former chalicer and layreader, but still an Episcopalian who enjoys encountering God in the mountain backcountry.