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One twenty-something’s spiritual journey: A simple practice

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“I understand once again that the greatness of God always reveals itself in the simple things.”

(Like the Flowing River, Paulo Coelho)

This was the third month of my spiritual quest. It was a quiet one. When I sat down to write this column, I was at a loss for what to write about.  I can’t offer any great revelations or startling truths. I started reading The Earth Path, a more recent offering from Starhawk, but I haven’t gotten very far, though I can already tell I feel a kinship to the connection between nature and spirituality she discusses at length. I added a few other books to my reading list, as per one of my goals from last month. What else did I have to say?

I walked away from the computer. As is often the case for writers, once I wasn’t thinking about what I had to write, I achieved clarity.  This month wasn’t about the big things or the (lack of) stuff I learned. It was about something much more basic. Following up on my realization from last month that I identified with a feminine, Goddess-type figure, I tried to welcome her into my life. One night, I was so weary I couldn’t sleep (a feeling twenty-somethings are all too familiar with), so I lay on my back and thought, Goddess, please help me to sleep and be refreshed tomorrow.  Maybe it was coincidence–lying on my back tends to lure the Sandman–or maybe it was a matter of aligning my thoughts with my actions, but my thoughts did get a little quieter and I was able to sleep not long after. I was not as refreshed as I was hoping in the morning, but it was something, and I thanked the Goddess for it.

This wasn’t the only everyday moment I attempted to include her in.  Honestly, I still feel like I’m “trying,” like I’m working at it, but I feel like I’m on the right track, and very few things are easy for me at the start.  I look forward to the day when spirituality feels natural to me.  For now, I’m still struggling to find my way. Recently, that’s meant asking for her guidance when I was at a loss for words, or thanking her after a particularly wonderful day.

Do I truly feel like I’m conversing with a presence larger than myself?  Sometimes it feels like I’m just having overly narcissistic interactions with myself.  I think that’s okay. It’s early days of a journey that lasts a lifetime. And when I feel skeptical, or just a little out of it, I focus on the wonders each day brings. Say, for example, the frisky wildlife hereabouts. Once you’ve seen seagulls going at it on the shores of Lake Ontario, it’s really difficult not to giggle whenever you remember it. Little random experiences like that put me in mind of this quote from the awesome book Buddha In Your Backpack: “What matters right now still matters, right now. Think, feel, and act in this moment, responding honestly to each experience. This is life and what we make of it.”

This month, my spiritual journey was not a primary focus.  I was occupied with pretty much every other facet of my life. I have no desire to be the equivalent of a Sunday Christian, someone who only acts according to the tenets of their religion or spirituality when they’re at church or when it suits them. I may be new to this, but I think there are ways to feel and be spiritual when your mind is on other things. Maybe building a bat house to connect to nature (and cut down on the local insect population), or making a habit of writing thank you notes to people who sent you a gift or went out of their way for you. I think part of spirituality is about connection, about being present in your life and with the people around you and being aware of your surroundings. For those who pray, whatever that means to you, maybe we don’t wait for a time of crisis but connect to a spiritual presence in the everyday. And maybe, just maybe, the spiritual comfort we long for when we really, truly need it won’t feel so far off.

Rather than setting new goals this month, I’m going to continue with the ones from my last column: search out readings I can learn from, maintain connections with people, and be present in nature.

If it’s warm enough to wear a denim jacket, it’s warm enough to go for a walk in the woods. Last time I ventured out by the lake, over Easter weekend with my mum, we watched two swans from a distance and watched a bird of prey circle overhead. For a moment I could barely breathe, I felt so lucky. What wonders will I see this time? I can’t wait to find out.

 

“God help us to live slowly:
To move simply:
To look softly:
To allow emptiness:
To let the heart create for us.
Amen.”

Michael Leunig


This article is Part III in an ongoing series on re-discovering spirituality as a twenty-something by Victoria Fry. Read Read Part I here and Part II here.

About the Author

Victoria Fry

Victoria is a writing coach who's a creative catalyst for burnt-out writers, helping them tell the stories jostling for room in their heart and mind. She also writes, devours books, loves to dance, and takes part in a weekly Star Wars tabletop game.

Website: www.somethingdelicious.co


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