‘The words I say to you I say to me,’ I keep reminding myself of this when I am offering some wisdom to someone who is in need of encouragement, inspiration or listening.
We all need so much reminding. If we consider ourselves as spiritual beings in a physical body then it’s a long process of not getting caught up with our physicality, our materiality, the desires that serve our body, and finding our way towards honouring the other desires we cherish. The desire to offer who we are most honestly to the world. The desire to become fully who we are – as a spirit and not just a body. We need to remember this. Through conversations with each other, as well as through the meditation, contemplation and prayer that connect us with the larger world of spirit, we so very regularly need reminders.
Once we heed these reminders then we find that the medium for learning how to be closer to our spirit is through our soul life – through our thoughts, feelings and activity. It often starts in the heart, we are guided by the heart, especially by the pain in our heart.
We encounter challenges and difficulty and experience pain not because we are a victim of those difficult others, the resisting world, our unhappy past. Instead the pain in our heart serves to wake up our spirit that something needs attention here. We need to do something different. We want to find a way to release ourselves from old habits and embrace a new habit, one we didn’t know we longed to find until we try it. A little awkwardly but with courage.
I keep saying to myself and others that life is an action research project, and now I want to add that this project is guided by our heart. We are pulled towards or away from something by our heart. We discern whether it is a spiritual desire which is doing this pulling or something else. If it is a spiritual desire: to become more fully who we sense we are, then we follow that desire.
If it’s one of our bodily desires attempting in colloquial language, ‘to give us a bum steer’, then we can refuse to follow. Eventually. We may have the habit of overeating, drinking alcohol, judgmentalism (my own favourite), indulging in all kinds of physical, emotional and intellectual pleasures and addictions. It may take a really enormous amount of courage to refuse the addictive habit, but we must learn how to refuse when we sense that this behaviour, habit, way of thinking is actually detrimental to our spirit.
Once we embark on the project of being fully who we are as spirit, as essence, as uniquely gifted being, then we have to keep paying attention and we will be guided. Through our encounters in the world. By the challenges, by the pain and by the sense of delight – not ecstasy but delight. These are sure signs that the heart is engaged. We find flow.
And we try things out. We risk getting it wrong because all of our efforts can offer us potential for learning.
And the future is longing for us to learn.