– Brian Lee
The term “being spiritual” is so crucial to our foundation of faith yet so foreign or mysterious to us. Progressing with our upbringing in the popular culture and new age ideas, the concept of spirituality can be interpreted as this mystical, metaphysical state that we achieve if we go through some ritual or methodology. But is Christian spirituality similarly a trance that requires “enlightenment” or special methods for us to unlock? What does it even mean to be spiritual?
At the Classical Era, the word spirit (Greek pneuma and eventual Latin spiritualitas) was often used to contrast with the body (soma). In some Greek philosophies, the body takes on a lesser form of perfection, while the goal of enlightening/ascension requires the person to escape the fleshly prison to become fully spiritual. In others, spirituality takes on the form of the occult and mystical, where the works of wonders and the supernatural, inexplicable, or ineffable, were channeled through attunement to spirituals of the supernatural forces. Yet neither fits the Christian understanding of spirituality. The New Testament (particularly Paul) demonstrates the equal importance of the flesh with the spirit self (i.e. Galatians) and the celebration of Christ in both the flesh and spirit (i.e. Colossians). If so, then what is the essence of Christian Spirituality?
Christian spirituality combines a sense of the awe and majesty of God with a sense of His intimate presence.– N.T. Wright, from Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
Spirituality is not something supernatural in the eyes of God, at least not supernatural in the worldly mystical sense. Instead, spirituality emphasizes the relationality between God and His Creation. To be spiritual then, is to be fully attuned to the relationship between God and ourselves. As seen in the commonly used benediction, the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” enables us to entire into presence with the Trinity. We are able to understand and encounter the fullness of who God is and His connection with us through such experiences. As a result, the spiritual disciplines that we practice in our Christian walk: devotionals, prayer, silence, and thanksgiving to name a few, are practices or means that assist us in drawing into a deeper spiritual (relational) connection with God. In turn, being spiritual is not bound by our classical Christian practices; even something as seemingly mundane and irrelevant including peeling an orange or mopping the floor can become spiritual if we invest our mindset and attitude into deepening our relationship and understanding of God.
As we continue to engage in this drawn out battle of endurance in a frustrating, challenging, and mundane pandemic life, may you find ways to stay spiritual in what you do, and may you engage God in your daily encounters, in ways that you have never tapped into spiritually before.