I'm in a wonderful class right now (week long) about Spiritual Formation and Witness. So far this class has really been refreshing and will just be a wonderful transition into a week by a lake in the forests of Maine (next week). Today we spent time discussion praying the Psalms. I prayed through Psalm 25, again. It's just been where my heart is lately. And then we wrote our own Psalms. Interesting but I think it gave me some perspective on why the Psalms are in the style and voice they are. Good exercises.
Just a refresher course for those not real familiar with the spiritual disciplines:
Most authors on the subject generally recognize two groups of disciplines, Abstinence and Engagement
The practices of abstinence include:
solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy (listen more interject less), sacrifice, and watching (such as Paul's practice of giving up sleep)
The practices of Engagement include:
study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, and submission
What I want to wrestle with today is what luxuries or common things can actually be used for disciplines?
For instance I really enjoy my work because I get to practice service, fellowship, and sometimes secrecy. At work is one place where I can actively live out some of the disciplines. But I would be able to do the same if I worked elsewhere or even if I didn't work at all. The practices are not contingent on my job.
Another example is I like to have my Sundays free from anything except church so that the rest of the day can be free to participate in any of the disciplines. I keep one day completely free so that I can never use the excuse of being too busy to carve out space for solitude or fasting or prayer.
Are you getting the picture?
For a while I claimed my iPod was part of my routine of discipline because 90% of the music was Christian-ish or would at least be capable of evoking a worshipful or celebratory response. Now however, it just fills the silence with more comfortable clamor.
I have been reflecting upon my semester that included a tremendous amount of travels to places like NY, CT, MA, NH, KY, IN, MI, and the places in between. Soon I'll be headed to ME and then for a long journey through NE, CO, NM, and TX. Some of my journeys have been on the seat of a motorcycle. The bike did something strange for my spiritual journey. For one I was forced into silence and solitude. There was no radio, cell phone, no reading, no human interaction (besides dodging traffic), and I was strangely at one with nature. Able to sense the changes in the air including subtle temperature changes, smells, winds, sounds. It is a unique experience that bikers share. I wonder if it could really be considered a valuable part of my spiritual formation and disciplines? Will my spiritual life suffer without the bike? Is that enough excuse to cleave to it even in the face of desires to become more frugal and live more simply?