Then why are we ‘spiritual people’ so boxed into certain little corners of this expansive human experience?
This has been an inner-struggle of mine for a long time. One that I feel is just now starting to get ironed out.
Obviously, my body of work is largely focused on the subject matter of spirituality. It’s quite apparent.
That said, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to share something with you, but stopped myself because I believed it ‘wasn’t about spirituality’.
I wrote a fun post yesterday that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the subject matter of spirituality. And I hesitated like crazy before pressing ‘publish’ on it. Even after I did, I got a sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach when I thought about it.
If you’re a writer, you likely know the feeling. It’s the fear… The resistance that kicks in and tells us to keep things safe and on-topic. It tells me that everyone will leave if I stray and make things too much about ‘me’.
I hate to admit it, but most of the time, I listen to this voice. Yesterday, however, I didn’t. And it felt both terrifying and amazing (how good art is supposed to feel).
Here’s a revelation that’s occurred to me lately (like many revelations go, it’s something I knew on the surface, but didn’t yet know in my core).
Like Rob Bell so eloquently stated, everything is spiritual.
I truly believe this. It’s impossible for me to type one letter, yell at my landlord, or hug my wife without spirit driving me (currently, my landlords are my in-laws, so I have to be careful here).
Everything. Is. Spiritual.
To disagree with this is spiritual.
This is something I believe and have believed for a long time. So when I hesitate to write a post about a personal story because it’s not ‘about spirituality’, I’m only shorting myself.
My little story about having a ‘bro side’ doesn’t seem spiritual, but it really is.
Spirituality is not an ideology (I’m learning this right now — expect a deeper post about this soon).
Ideology = idolatry (and we all know what the Good Book says about worshipping false idols).
Spirit is the driving force behind life itself.
Spirituality is the conscious awareness of this.
God is… I don’t know. And I’ll probably never know. So WTF?
Spirituality is limited when it becomes about content. It finds it wings when it becomes about event. Therefore,
Spirituality is best represented through story.
Anne Lamott proved this. So did Annie Dillard and countless others. These are spiritually-aware people who write incredible stories that make us laugh until we cry, cry until we laugh, and slap our foreheads with our palms like, holy shit— me too! (how many times has Joel Osteen done this — seriously).
Even certain atheists who gave zero shits about this old, tired notion of God like Bukowski and London — their writings were some of the most spiritual texts ever drafted.
When we make spirituality about content, we start arguing about the meaning of things.
If you and I are looking at a piece of art and you tell me there’s a certain way to think about it, I’m going to want to take off my leather glove, slap you in the face with it, and challenge you to a duel (sorry, I just had a visual). But this is how most of the world speaks about spirituality.
No, no, no…
It’s a better use of both your time and mine to use that experience to stand in the unity of the event itself. You and I both bring different things to art just like we do to the divine. What’s powerful is when we can focus on the event of standing on that space together and be open to hearing how each other’s lives have shifted as we stand before that piece hanging on the wall (or, maybe all I see is a bunch of paint strewed about a canvas by a trust fund baby — I’m pretty shallow like that sometimes).
I don’t think you want to hear about my definition of God. I think you’d rather hear about how life (inseparable from God) has transformed me.
Maybe now, we can both talk about spirituality without even really talking about it. For you, that may be how combing your daughter’s hair yesterday changed the way you think about your late mother. For me, maybe I just want to talk about how I’m really sore from the gym and how it points to the fact that I’m a total old dad now.
Either way, it’s more interesting than a set of ideals that we’re both going to grow out of at some point anyway. And if we do, maybe we can realize that they’re only rest stops on the never-ending journey towards ourselves