Not too long ago I was reading the book, “Caring for God’s People: Integrating Spirituality into Pastoral Counseling” and the author spoke about spirituality being all about relationships. Philip Culbertson, the author, went on to explain that spirituality is all about relationships between one’s self and God but also with one another. This is a very simple concept and easy to understand, but its simplicity caused me to pause for a moment and to really think about spirituality.
Since reading this insight into spirituality, I have found myself thinking about spirituality and the claim that it is all about connection and relationships. Recently, I was facilitating a group at a nursing home in my capacity as a hospice chaplain and I asked the residents, “What brings you joy?” I then asked them, “What brings you sorrow?” On each occasion, the response had something to do with their interactions with other people. For example, one of the joys I remember hearing was, “I’m always happy when my great- granddaughter comes to visit.” One of the sorrows shared was, “I’m sad when one of the residents here dies.” These lovely people at the nursing home didn’t care about “stuff,” but truly cherished their relationships with other people. Their family and their friends were what were important to them and not the stuff they used to own. It would seem that perhaps spirituality is indeed about relationships and connection with others.
Further reflection on this idea I look within upon my own sense of spirituality. I value connection and relationship within several spheres feeding into my sense of The Sacred. I look at my reverence and awe at the wonders of Nature and the natural work and value the connection I feel when I visit places that are sacred to me. I look with respect and gratitude upon my ancestors, those who I am connected to by blood and also those who I have an affinity with and consider my chosen family and ancestors. I have felt a connection with nature spirits and other unseen spirits that I believe have blessed me from time to time. Finally, I look upon the Gods who enrich my life and feel a connection with a cultivated relationship. I realize that spirituality truly is about relationships. It is the connections we feel and the bonds we build and strengthen over time.
The libations we pour out to our ancestors. The incense we burn to honor the Gods. The time we spend in nature, just being. The shiny objects we leave for the Fae within deep forest dwellings — just because our heart compels us. Spending time with a friend and building the bonds of friendship. Practicing compassion towards a stranger. All of these things help to further our sense of The Sacred and to further our spirituality.
How do you build sacred relationships?