This Issue

Winter 2009

Once upon a time ‘Iolani teachers were not teachers just yet. They were children and teenagers like the ones they now instruct. Find out which childhood books inspired our teachers.
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Winter 2009 - Department | St. Alban’s Minute

St. Alban’s Minute With The Rev. Daniel L. Leatherman

Charles Dickens gave us Scrooge - a character recognized and embraced as an aspect of ourselves and yet we despise him in the beginning because of is cynical attitude and perpetual grumpiness.  For him, everything around the holiday of Christmas was met with, “bah, humbug.”

Maybe it’s a false observation, but there seems to be a general “bah, humbug” among many Americans when it comes to interest in religious or spiritual matters.  However, a recent national survey of adolescents showed that a majority of them believe in God and most are oriented towards or are engaged in traditional faith communities or practices.  Spirituality, regardless of one’s faith tradition, is an integral part of our human existence.  So why is it then that we spend so much time working on the body and the mind, but leave little time for nurturing the soul?

Things to help us live our lives in HOPE:

  1. Practice and participate in church, temple, synagogue or mosque and your faith tradition.
  2. Pray.  aloud or in silence.  Offering to God your hopes and fears, your thanks and praise, asking for forgiveness, praying for others, etc.
  3. Read scripture.  Find depth and meaning and God in sacred texts.
  4. Sit in silence. Take a few minutes before you get out of bed each morning or go to bed at night to just “be” in the presence of God.
  5. Turn off the TV, computer, cell phone, iPod, iTouch, iPhone, (or any variant).
  6. Go for a walk or exercise. The soul, mind and body are linked.
  7. Read a book. Find inspiration in others’ journeys or spiritual practices.
  8. Find a special place that brings you calm and peace.  It can be by the ocean or in the mountains, or in your room.  But let it be a safe haven for your soul.

One answer is that we are a culture of “doers.”  America, with a history of the Protestant work ethic where productivity is prized, is addicted to doing.  When you ask people how they are, they seldom tell you, but rather describe what they are doing.  Doing in our culture equals value.  Therefore it’s easy to see when we “work” on our bodies (we call it a “work out”) or our minds (“learning”) we are busy doing something that benefits our physical and mental pursuit.  On the other hand, doing nothing is a sign of laziness and is seen as the business of losers. Even our holiday shopping is a thing to “do.”

Spirituality and spiritual health require a different approach.  One cannot “do” spirituality, as if it’s among a checklist of things. Spirituality and religion are intertwined - though one may consider spirituality more with the state of the heart and religion or “being religious” with the worship or religious practices of a particular tradition. Spirituality is less about “doing” and more about “being.” It is spirituality that helps give all that we do balance, perspective, and focus.  It has more to do with the “whys” of life rather than the “hows.” 

That being said, there are practices and exercises that people have found to help grow in their spiritual journey.  Live your spiritual life with HOPE.

Be HONEST and authentic - it’s not just for show.  Undertake spiritual practices because you a desire a change in your life that will benefit you and those close to you, not because it will make you look pious or religious.  Go to church because you want to deepen your relationship with God and others.

Be OPEN.  Be willing to open your heart , open your mind or be open to the moment.  Be available and open to the presence of God. Attend and participate in a Church, Temple, Synagogue, or Mosque. Participating in a faith tradition can help form and shape one’s spirituality giving it understanding and support.

Be PERSISTENT.  The soul does battle with those things that threaten to flood it with the demands of the world.  Yet, the soul remains at the “center” of the storm and able to ride it out.  Also be patient with yourself.  The Spiritual life is fraught with success and failure.  Relax. A stressed soul is distracted and easily annoyed. A harried soul is clumsy and careless; a relaxed soul creates a patient spirit.

Be ENGAGED.  Make spiritual practices a part of your daily living.  We all lead busy lives, but again, if spirituality is so important, then why do we say that we have no time for it?  Being engaged does not mean solely attending a house of worship. It means being intentional about the time we give to God and our desire to nurture the soul.