“Spiritual practice is about opening our hearts even more.” (From my journal, June 14, 2020)
I don’t know where that quote is from, but I was inspired enough to write it in my journal during the early morning hours. I had committed to a new spiritual practice for the summer: listening and learning about racial injustice. It was way outside my comfort zone, and I was dialoguing with God about this.
That’s often the way with spiritual practices. They help us stretch and grow in our relationship with God, others, and self. They also help us confront unhealthy and unholy patterns, habits, and perspectives within ourselves. It’s no wonder that people often take on a new spiritual practice during Lent, since it is a season of repentance: returning to God and aligning our souls with the Source of Love.
Prior to last spring, I was hesitant to delve into racial issues. I am a peacemaker by nature, and that work was too challenging and messy. But my heart had been cracked open by events of the spring, including George Floyd’s death and an intimate conversation with two good friends who are black men. I was shaken to my core, and wrapped in a mixture of sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, and uncertainty. I needed to do something, so I turned to my spiritual life for guidance.
I decided that summer was to be a season of humility and curiosity. I ordered several books, including White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, a white educator. It was not an easy read. I sought to get into a contemplative mode to read a chapter a day, beginning with prayer, asking God to open my heart to what I needed to hear and learn. I was aware of feeling defensive, resistant, and uncomfortable as I turned the pages. Opinions and judgments formed in my head, but I tried to just observe them.
This was hard, uncomfortable work. Summer turned into fall, and fall into winter. I’ve realized that it’s lifelong work to shift my heart and my consciousness into something better.
Our Sacred Ground group became a core part of my spiritual practice. Jesus promised, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I will be there” (Matthew 18:20). In our small group we discovered courage, support, and hope for our expanding hearts.
Opening our hearts wider is the work of Love. Christ shows us how. I am grateful for our church community that encourages this work.
What spiritual practices open your heart, helping you to stretch and grow? Is there a new spiritual practice that you can commit to?