I think that people begin on the spiritual path for one of two reasons, they have a calling in their heart toward God or they are looking for relief from physical or emotional suffering. I know my own journey was a combination of both. When I really delved into my spiritual journey in 2001, I was broke, not very happy with my life, and in my own way suffering. Going on the spiritual journey has brought me to depths of suffering and loneliness in a dark night of my soul, brought me a deepened connection to myself and to the Divine, made me more compassionate, and given me a breadth of joy that I never anticipated. It has given me the most beautiful friends who are grounded in authenticity.
So why do I think the spiritual life isn't easy? I think that when bad things happen in life, it is not easy to pick ourselves back up and shake off and try again. It isn't easy to try to make sense and meaning from suffering. It isn't easy to trust a God/Divine Presence when sometimes we do not really feel connected to it. It isn't easy to have the discipline to create a prayer practice and use it. It isn't easy to choose peace when your ego wants revenge. It isn't easy having faith in the dark. It isn't easy to be witness in the suffering of others and the subsequent growth. It isn't easy to live authentically to the inner guidance when the world tells you to be a different way.
I think it is a fallacy that we should do the spiritual life simply to end our suffering. Yes, the end of suffering is really only part of the spiritual life. The rest of the spiritual life is the deepening and the internal knowings that come from the intimate, individual relationships we create with the Divine. There are moments when the suffering is deepening who we are and what we are capable of being. There are moments when the challenges we have with other people deepen our capacity to love. There are moments where being authentic alters our whole lives because we can't shrink ourselves down to what we once believed ourselves to be.
If the spiritual life is so difficult, why do it? Because we cannot help but seek the Divine and the fullness of our own being. If we are all in this together, why can't we make the spiritual journey easier for others? When we meet people, remember that everyone is suffering in their own way somehow. We can be kind even if we don't really want to. We can create community where other's feel supported and less crazy on their spiritual journey. We can hold a space of compassion for everyone knowing that they are on the same deepening journey that we are on. We can pray. So I challenge you this week to have compassion for your journey and to make the journey of others a little bit easier.
My questions for reflection for this week are:
1. What isn't easy about your spiritual life?
2. How have you suffered and what came from that suffering?
3. What has been your deepening and is your current deepening?
4. What does compassion look like for you?
5. How can you make other's spiritual journey less difficult?