Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year, new possibilities: A few tips for your spiritual life

I hope you have had a wonderful New Year’s celebration, or maybe like us you stayed home and shared a good meal and a movie.

I’ve seen a number of items lately on New Year’s Resolutions for the spiritual life and some are quite good. Truthfully, people have been writing advice for how to live a holy life for millennia. You can find advice ranging from the Torah of Hebrew Scriptures to the Rule of Saint Benedict, from Jeremy Taylor’s Holy Living to the terrific contemporary books of Henri Nouwen and Joan Chittister. You can take a lifetime to drink deeply of all it.

So consider my advice below as a primer, or merely a reminder of what you already know. Feel free to add a few more tips in the comment section of this post.

Here are a few ideas for renewing your life with the Divine this new year.

Gratitude – Begin each day with gratitude. The simplest and most profound prayer begins with gratitude for a new day, new possibilities. No day will ever be like this one again, with its challenges and opportunities. Today is a gift to you. Open your eyes, look at the sky, and be grateful. Begin each day by saying thanks. Say Grace, silently or aloud, at every meal and give thanks before retiring for the night.

Pray – Set aside a time for regular prayer each day. Get up a little earlier, and find a place where you can sit in the silence for a time. Hear your breath and be grateful. Use a prayer book, or find prayers that work for you. Listen to the spontaneous prayer from your heart, but don’t neglect to listen to the old prayers written by the masters for they contain new meanings and ancient wisdom whenever you read them.

Worship – Go to your faith community, and go regularly, and not just when it is convenient. Give thanks to your creator in community. Sing, pray, and eat of the bread and drink of the cup. Why would you want to do any of this alone? Life is too hard and complicated to do it alone. Listen to the wisdom of others around you, and know that when your prayers run dry others are praying for you. And others need you there.

Give, give, give – Everyone can give something because God has given each one of us something to give. What abundance do you have that you can share with others? Your treasure, your time, your talents are yours to give. Give with abandon, give with compassion, give with gratitude. Giving will set you free. Your giving will change the world like nothing else can.

Expand your horizons – Try something new every day. Look, learn, listen, expand your soul. God’s creation is infinite and all of it is here for you to explore. Read a book, study your Bible, take a hike, see a movie, learn to cook, take a trip to a far away place or just around the block. Open your eyes and ears to God’s presence wherever you go.

Laugh – Life has its challenges, but also joys large and small. Enjoy as much as you can whenever you can. Show your love for all you meet, be kind, soften your rough edges, ask forgiveness when you fall short, and don’t forget to laugh.

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