The Spiritual Side
Take Time to Reflect and Meditate This Holiday Season
by Rick Ness
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Welcome to my new column, “The Spiritual Side.” The above quote by French philosopher, scientist and Jesuit Priest Pierre Teilhard De Chardin is at the core of my belief about people’s need for spirituality. It is why I am writing this column.
Spirituality is often practiced through some form of religion. My own faith tradition is Protestant Christian. I grew up in and am currently a member of The Presbyterian Church (USA). For more information about my church and its beliefs please visit PCUSA.org.
My hope is not to convince people of a particular religion, but to offer thoughts about spirituality. I will blend my own faith with what I believe are important teachings from other faiths. I hope that readers will find this perspective of personal value.
Scripture, reason and experience
I recently read something insightful regarding the practice and study of Hinduism. First, begin with the ancient texts of scripture. Then apply reason and experience to develop wisdom for daily living. The texts alone become dogmatic. Likewise, reason and experience alone are tainted by our own preconceptions, limitations and cultures. When we combine all three – scripture, reason and experience – we develop a completeness that allows us to live healthy and fulfilling lives while maintaining our spiritual health and connection.
Let’s apply Christian scripture. In Matthew 5:48 (NRSV) Jesus is quoted, “Be perfect therefore as your heavenly father is perfect.”
The Greek word frequently translated as “perfect” is Telios. But it can also be translated as “complete,” lending a different meaning to the statement.
My hope is to enable readers to find a path to completeness by applying scripture and reason to the experience of their daily lives.
December is a time for reflection
The month of December is when we traditionally look ahead to the next year. Thousands will head into church on Christmas Eve, many of whom have not considered doing so since last Christmas. My friend who is a rabbi, tells me the same holds true in the Jewish faith. People head to temple around holidays, such as Hanukkah which also happens to fall in December. Perhaps people who are not particularly religious still yearn for something spiritual that is not being satisfied.
In the Christian tradition, the weeks before Christmas are called Advent. This is a time of preparation to receive or renew the gift of the Holy Spirit that is represented at Christmas. It can be used as a time of fasting, prayer, reflection and meditation. Try this and I can assure you that you will be less stressed when engaging in the holiday shopping season.
I conclude this installment of “The Spiritual Side” with a paraphrased quote from one-time J.C.Penney store manager George F. McDougall. His sentiment may be appropriate for these challenging times:
Best of all Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love our fellow humans should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.
Rick attended the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and was a Commissioned Lay Pastor who served a Presbyterian Church in Maine for seven years.