We apologize for the delay in posting the excerpt from A Faith Interrupted; but it is now available to view here.
“Outward rituals of commitment, whether in religion or any other significant relationship, are not complete unless they express what’s going on deep down in a person’s life. In fact, the outward sign of ritual makes sense only if it comes as a result of a whole and entire commitment to which the sign bears witness in the public act of worship.” A Faith Interrupted, 125
Over the past several weeks, we’ve talked about being spiritually “on the edge”—if not alienated from the formal faith community, at least existing on the margins. We’ve talked about reasons for leaving or hanging on the margins; we’ve also talked about what is essential to the faith—the core of what we believe and practice.
In this final post on A Faith Interrupted, let’s concentrate on how to care for ourselves spiritually, no matter where we are on the faith spectrum. Chapter 7 of the book addresses that very topic.
“A healthy and vital spirituality defines who we are and helps us to grow and develop along the way of faith. The way we express our spirituality should be a support and a consolation to us; it should also afford enough challenge to keep us moving forward and to help us avoid complacence” (p. 127).
The crucial thing to understand is that faith needs to be nurtured. No matter where I am in relation to the official church, or to my local congregation, I must take responsibility for my interior, true self. Ultimately, I must grapple with the God Who Is and how I will relate to God. No one else can do this nurturing for me, and no one else is to blame when I neglect it.
How to nurture the human soul, made by God, designed to be in communion with the Divine Life? Well, don’t ignore those practices that have nurtured souls for centuries and millennia. Sacraments, all types of prayer, spiritual retreat, pilgrimage—even if no farther than the Stations of the Cross in a local church—have been helping souls all along, through various cultures and situations. Sometimes we are greatly helped by spiritual companionship in the form of a spiritual director or prayer partner. There’s reading that focuses on the soul—Scriptures, works of saints and artists, poetry that lifts us out of ourselves. Don’t neglect silence and simple, mindful breathing. Listen for God’s voice, and don’t be surprised where it comes from.
Next week is Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent. This Web site will be very active during Lent—offering a retreat and additional materials and opportunities for you. I encourage you—no, I urge you—to take advantage of the coming Spring to care for your soul, to allow God to hold you tenderly.