When I was a Christian, I didn’t think of everyday life as having intrinsic spirituality. Rather the opposite – everyday life was an unspiritual problem I hoped spirituality would resolve for me.
I tried to import spirituality into my everyday life so I could draw on it as a resource. I would get topped up with spirituality at church or Bible study. Or by spending time alone reading the Bible and praying to God. Then I would re-enter everyday life bringing my renewed supply of spirituality. Hoping it would be right there next time I needed it.
But that never worked very well. Somehow it seemed that spirituality was not a resource I could collect one place and use in another.
A few years ago I lost faith in church and Bible studies and prayer. All I had left was everyday life. I reconciled myself to this new reality and began to engage with everyday life instead of running away from it, mentally or geographically. I was pleasantly surprised to find at what I found when I opened myself up to all everyday life had to offer.
I didn’t abandon having values: instead I returned to the values I’d always believed in even before I was a Christian such as kindness and respect. I found myself appreciating all my relationships and conversations, not just those with Christians. I discovered there are amazing and special moments and opportunities in everyday life, waiting to be noticed by me.
I’d stopped thinking about spirituality because to me it meant separation from everyday life in a way I wasn’t interested in and couldn’t even relate to, anymore.
A couple of years ago when I first ran across Off The Map, I noticed they think of spirituality differently. They describe ordinary (everyday) attempts to ‘serve others’ as inherently spiritual. I was used to spirituality being narrowly defined and definitely something I had turned my back on. Now I’d found some people who thought I was spiritual just because I attempted to show kindness and respect in my everyday life.
Recently Beth Patterson e-mailed Off The Map to let us know about her site Virtual Treehouse. I was pleased to see that same idea in her site tagline: everyday life can be inherently spiritual. I picked up from Beth and the site the belief that as we connect with others in ways that bring out the best of our humanity, something spiritual is taking place whether we are using overtly spiritual language or not.
These days I think of myself as ‘almost an atheist’. I’m very comfortable not talking about spirituality at all. I know there are lots of people who react negatively to the concept – just as I did when I realized how much better it was to fully engage with everyday life than run from it. I’m also happy to hang with people who do talk about spirituality. As long as they don’t do it in a way which labels my way of living everyday life as ‘unspiritual’ and ‘wrong’.
I’m very pleased to have found people with whom I can talk of ‘living my everyday life’ and they talk of ‘being spiritual’ and we’re all referring to the same experience.