Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Spiritual and emotional life - adrift?

Returning from a couple of leisure weeks in Honolulu and Portland, I find that my spiritual boat has drifted a little. Although it is impossible to ignore the beautiful God-given gifts in the two aforementioned cities, e.g., the scenery, the weather, the rainbows, the ocean, the family....and on and on; however, my spiritual discipline of focused attention to God's presence in my life is not as keen when vacationing as it is when I arise at the same time, focus on my faith firsthand and then move into my day. So, why upon returning to home, was I not surprised to open Henri J.M. Nouwen's daybook, Bread for the Journey daybook, and find the following reading waiting for me -

The Dynamics of the Spiritual Life - Our emotional lives and our spiritual lives have different dynamics. The ups and downs of our emotional lives depend a great deal on our past or present surroundings. We are happy, sad, angry, bored, excited, depressed, loving, caring, hateful, or vengeful because of what happened long ago or what is happening now.

The ups and downs of our spiritual lives depend on our obedience - that is, our attentive listening - to the movements of the Spirit of God within us. Without this listening our spiritual life eventually becomes subject to the windswept waves of our emotions.

So, do you relate to the emotional/spiritual dimensions of your lives as I do mine? Have you found your present surroundings or circumstances suddenly jumping up and stamping for no reason having to do with the present, but perhaps with a long list of issues you have been unwilling to face in either your immediate or long-distant past? Do you find your own spiritual boat drifting as I've described mine to do, only to immediately find God's ever present assurance patiently waiting for your willing obedience to return?

Here's to my and your emotional and spiritual balance remaining friendly and as steady as we can manage as we go about our lives this week. Thanks for visiting the Mindsieve!

Photo - SS, Kanehoe Bay, Hawaii


  1. My own spiritual discipline is to say the Morning Office complete with all the scripture readings and prayers as a pathway to opening up my own conversation with God. That becomes very hard to do on vacation for lots of different reasons, but I slog through it as best I can in the same way that others do their exercises. But it isn't only vacation. There are times when I can get really bored with the Daily Office and wonder what good it does. That's when I have to just keep at it because that's what I do. I've finally learned that God is never really very far away and usually has something important to say at the end of my slogging through.

  2. CP - thanks so much for your reassurance.....I have been a little discouraged these last few days but as I said in the post, good ol' Henri generally gives me a boost and so have you!


  3. I think it's important to notice the difference between the psychological and the spiritual. They're both important and they're related, and yet distinct...

  4. Hi Paul,

    "and yet distinct"...couldn't agree more! Thanks for the comment.

  5. I'm sorry your spiritual boat has been drifting a bit, but it's clear from this post that it hasn't floated too far.
    Thank you so much for the Nouwen quote. I suspect it's going to be really important to me. I further suspect that I've been allowing my emotional life to dictate my spiritual life and have only just realised it. I hadn't put the two concepts together before.
    Mmmm, welcome back indeed!

  6. Tess - thanks for the comment. Always glad to see your name come up. I'm working toward "full sails" again soon. Mr. Nouwen had another great reading for me today.


  7. don't ya just love henri? he always has something spot on to say. thanks for sharing this one.

    i have had my own drifting going on and thanks to your post i was able to articulate it a little better this morning. check it out at diamonds :-)

    i am really curious about this line in your post and would love to have a little expansion there:

    "Have you found your present surroundings or circumstances suddenly jumping up and stamping for no reason having to do with the present, but perhaps with a long list of issues you have been unwilling to face in either your immediate or long-distant past?"

    i think the past is always waiting to come stomp on our present, but being aware of what is happening can make all the difference in the world as to how we react.

    glad to see you posting again. i, of course, will be away for a few days so i imagine you are going to be prolific now :-)


  8. I loved Lucy's articulation this a.m. re "adrift" and "drifting" and I'll expound a bit more on the "present surroundings or circumstances" later - maybe even AFTER you return from wherever that Masters degree takes you to work this weekend?!

    Oh, and yes, I'm feeling quite prolific - does that mean you bring out the best or the worst in me intown vs out of town?:)


  9. just wanted to let you know that although this weekend is work-related, it is hopefully pure fun. there are 18 lady soltura "graduates" who are gathering at lakebay for fun and fellowship. i am preparing dinner tonight which i believe is the extent of my "official" duties :-)

    and that "s" theme with the comfort zone is kind of interesting...

    hope you have a grand weekend!