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Personal Spiritual Vision

I’m fairly convinced that most people go through life without thinking too deeply about it. Nor do they think too deeply about what they say, how they say it, or what they do. I believe most folks simply react to what is going on in their lives, or to their feelings at the moment. I’m sure we’re all like this sometimes – we are human after all.

A personal spiritual vision is one way to develop awareness of who we are and who we want to be so that we don't simply react to life.

Matthew 13:1-9, the parable of the sower, speaks to me of how open and willing we need to be to nourish and grow the spiritual seeds in our lives. Here's a brief refresher:  A farmer goes to sow some seed. Some fell on the footpath and birds carried it away, some fell on rocky ground and grew, but it withered for lack of roots, some fell in thorns that choked it, and some fell on good soil and yielded a bumper crop.

Let’s flesh this out…

In terms of spirituality, what is the seed? It’s the experiences that connect you to the divine, it’s the words of wisdom that come to you and draw you inward, it is avenues of healing and wholeness for your soul, it is intentional study and worship and prayer and meditation.

In this parable we are the ground that the seeds of our spiritual learning fall on. If we are like the footpath what might that mean? The seeds don’t even take root, our ground is hardened and it is impossible to grow here. Maybe we’ve been burned by church and have given up on God and religion. Maybe we’ve had some really difficult life experiences and have hardened our hearts and minds against something as intangible as God. Whatever it is, we're not interested in nurturing those seeds at this point.

If we are rocky ground and the seeds can only take shallow root and soon wither, what might that mean? Some people are enthusiastic at the beginning, but they aren’t committed and soon drift away, their interest fading and dying. I've seen many people over the years jump into church and be very enthusiastic for a few weeks or months and then simply disappear.

If we are thorny soil and the seeds are choked out by the thorns, what might that mean? Perhaps there are too many distractions, too many demands on our time, too many critical voices, too much fear, and what began to grow is suffocated by other things.

But if we are good soil, what does that mean? We’re interested, we’re invested, we’ll put in the time to nurture the seeds and help them grow. We’re open and curious, perhaps willing to go the extra mile to add fertilizer about the seeds and learn as much as we can about them.

As good soil, a spiritual vision can blossom and grow. So, what is a spiritual vision? It may be easier to say what it is not. It is not a bucket list of what you want to get done or see in your life. It is not a work goal. It is not how you envision your life in 3-5 years (promotion, retirement, kid’s gone, grandkids, downsizing, etc.)

Simply put, a spiritual vision is not about what we want to acquire or accomplish, but about who we want to be. 

An easy way to think about our spiritual vision might be to consider what we want our legacy to be, what is the expansive vision of ourselves that we want people to remember? Again, this is not our accomplishments, this is about the kind of person we are on a daily basis.

I’ve done about a hundred or so funerals in my time and I often ask people to give me one word to describe the person who has passed away. Let me tell you, I have a list of words that I don’t want to be even in the top ten of what people remember about me including hard-working, organized, clean-freak, stubborn, rigid, strong-willed (that's sort of a passive-aggressive word). And, I’m always somewhat taken aback when “loving” isn't among the first things mentioned, or not mentioned at all, or maybe mentioned as an afterthought. 

Consider for a moment the top three things you'd like people to describe you as at your funeral or memorial service.

Your three words are a good start for a personal spiritual vision. To achieve it will require awareness, reflection, and intention, and then these words can help to guide what we say and do.

My three words at this point in my life, because they may change during the course of your lifetime, would be loving, grounded and creative. The questions these pose for me on a daily basis are:

What would it look like for me to be loving in this situation?

What spiritual practices to I need to maintain to stay grounded and at peace?

How do I honor the creative side of myself?

Then there is the question of how we'll remember these words and this intention to nurture and grow these characteristics on a daily basis? How will we keep them at the forefront of our minds?

Sometimes a symbol is helpful, something that can be kept on your keychain, or your dresser or your desk or somewhere to remind you of the interior journey you are on and the qualities you wish to nurture.

The spiral has been a symbol of mine for a long time, it represents the divine within, the journey within. I also have a balanced stack of stones on my desk and on a table nearby that remind me about balance (or staying grounded).

What symbol might be yours to bring you back to your spiritual vision? To remind you of who you want to be in any given situation? To help you to be good, fertile soil?

Another thought might be to develop a short six-word vision statement that you repeat to yourself, or write it out and put where you can see it. Here are some I thought of for me:

Love life, love self, love others

To be a force for good

Remain grounded. Love always. Honor creativity.

A simple breath prayer might be another option. For me when I find myself about to react without thinking, I might breathe in balance and peace and breathe out love. What breath prayer would reflect the words you chose?

Yes, all of this takes thought. Yes, all of this takes intention and awareness. But this is how we walk the spiritual path, this is how we live into an expansive vision of ourselves, this is how we become good soil and nurture the people we hope to be.

Love & Light!