Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spiritual Stagnation

I have a morning routine that includes what my mom used to call her "daily devotions".  I call it my quiet time.  It's a time for meditation, reflection, and spiritual study. For a number of years, I have been reading Around The Year With Emmet Fox by Emmet Fox, and 365 Saints by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker.  Each year I try to use a different colored highlighter or pen to mark the passages that jump out at me.  Many lines are marked and remarked, underlined in different colors and there are even ones that are starred and circled.  Occasionally, there will be a phrase or sentence that is only highlighted or underlined once.  It makes me wonder what was going on in my life at the time.  And even more, it surprises me when a new sentence jumps out at me.  Did I not read that before?  Was I not ready to read/hear what the author was saying?   Those are my two primary daily devotionals.  I usually have a few other books going at the same time.

If I had to describe my spiritual beliefs, I would probably say I fell somewhere between New Thought and New Age with a healthy dose of the teachings of Jesus.  I was raised in the Lutheran Church and never attended another church until I was in my 40s.  At that time, I discovered Unity.   While I never actually joined my local Unity church, I do connect with the teachings of Unity, and if I had to declare a church affiliation, that would be the one I would pick.

So given the above, why in heaven's name was I finding myself so attracted to some of the various Catholic authors?  I love the writing of Woodeene Koenig-Bricker.  She is so down to earth and practical, and lives her faith.  I am also very fond of Father James Martin, and especially his book, The Jesuit Guide To (Almost) Everything.  Oh my goodness, I loved that book.  It is about the teachings of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and learning how to see God in all things.  Father Martin has a very easy to read style, and his books are full of funny stories and humorous anecdotes accompanied by user friendly teachings and examples.

I tried some other Catholic authors, and I just wasn't connecting with them.  In one book, the author even wrote something to the effect that if you were not getting anything out of his writing, maybe this was not the book for you. Okay, good to know.  I'll move on.

When you feel stuck and are looking for something to expand your vision and understanding of things spiritual, often times your first inclination is to look for a new author or a new teacher.  However, through experience, I've often found that the best thing to do is go back and re-read some of the books and authors that you previously connected with.  We all have those ones - the ones where you first went "ah-ha".  I have a friend who calls these insights "just another piece of the puzzle."  And that's how it feels.

We are all working on different puzzles.  We all get stuck at different spots.   Next time you are stuck, try going back to the basics.  Find the straight edged pieces of your puzzle - this is your foundation.  and go to work from there.  You may find things just start coming together.  Or you may find there is a missing puzzle piece, just waiting to be discovered.

I noticed I've been stuck recently....stuck in the sense that I felt like I was just not making any progress.  Therefore, I'm pulling out my foundation blocks - Catherine Ponder, Florence Scovel Shinn, Emmet Fox.  I will re-read some of these authors and I'm sure that just like in my daily devotional reading, I will find bits of wisdom that jump off the page that either I just didn't read before, or I wasn't yet ready to read.

I plan to just keep on keeping on.

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