Soul Tending: An Exploration of Practices for Spiritual Nourishment and Growth
We have entered into an unusual and deeply challenging season in the life of the world.
Whether we wanted to go there or not, we are now in many ways wandering this wilderness together and apart.
Many of us are isolated from the markers and supports that encourage us in our faith and in our relationship with God.
Few churches are gathering for live worship, Bible studies and small groups now meet over the internet.
We can’t help but become disoriented and for many folks deeply spiritually hungry.
Exploring and cultivating your own spiritual practices is one way to respond with compassion and self-care to that sense of disorientation and spiritual hunger.
Since the beginning of the Christian faith, there have been personal practices that helped one to be still and connect with the Holy.
The Desert Mothers and Fathers knew that silence and solitude were essential in allowing the seeker to both find and be found by God.
They sought a way of being in the world, but not of the world so that they could more fully love and serve God.
A rhythm of life that creates a balance between work and play, study and prayer has been at the heart of every monastic community.
In a world that has overemphasized work-life and tipped the scales toward exhaustion as an expected mode of being, spiritual practices invite us to examine the flow of a day so that it best supports us a people of God.
Care for the body and understanding the relationship between our physical selves and our spiritual selves is essential.
Often these practices can seem heady or intellectual.
But painting, dancing, poetry, in fact all creative expressions, hold the possibility of opening us to new ways of encountering the Holy Spirit.
Lest these practices seem over individualized we remember that the fruit of this cultivation of our spiritual lives is not only a connection to the Divine, but also service to others.
When folks ask me about spiritual practices, I like to tell them it’s like learning to make your own bread.
There are time tested recipes, but it is also a process of discovery and trial and error to find out what you like and what nourishes you.
Not everyone likes whole wheat or multigrain and every oven is different.
It is a journey of discovery, and what served at one season of life doesn’t always last.
So it is an ongoing adventure of fresh ways to stay open and available to the ever-present and dynamic spirit of God in our midst.
This fall I invite folks who would like to explore making some homemade “soul food” to join me online.
We’ll explore setting an alternative pace of life and find ways to quiet the noise that so often distracts us from God’s still small voice.
A broad menu of options for paying attention to our relationship with God and allowing that to have priority in our life will be explored.
We’ll also spend time investigating what community and service look like in this season of the life of the world. I hope you’ll join us.
Liz Forney is a Presbyterian pastor, artist and spiritual director. She is co-author with Norvene Vest of What is Your Practice: Lifelong Growth in the Spirit and will facilitate the Soul Tending: An Exploration of Spiritual Practices for Nourishment and Growth (Online) course this month.