I haven’t written anything in what seems like a very long time, although in reality it was just April of this year. Looking back at the last few months, actually the whole of this year, I can understand what has brought about this change in plans, or how I foresaw my year going back in January.
At that time, I made some personal goals that would involve a lot of growth and change.
Have you ever done something similar and then watched as your world appears to go haywire for a while?
When we set about creating change, it often entails taking something apart and re-building it. You can’t move house without taking everything off the walls, removing everything from closets, cabinets, drawers, throwing away or recycling some items and then packing.
Change and growth can be so challenging and exhausting as you attempt to find your bearings in the midst of upheaval, that even trust and faith can come into question.
Are you sure you’re making the right decision to end a long-term relationship, to distance yourself from a group of friends, to move to a new town, state, country, to change jobs? Going out on a limb takes courage. Forging a new path into uncharted territory is frightening.
When faith is questioned, it is helpful to examine the nature of that faith and whether there is any room for flexibility or growth within it. Is your faith, whether it be in your set of morals and ethics, your God or your path and purpose able to change and grow with you? If ones faith is tied to hard and fast rules or, worse, fear then there is little to no wriggle room for growth and change.
I subscribe to “Spirituality & Health” magazine and thoroughly enjoy regular contributor, Rabbi Rami Shapiro who responds to questions about spirituality, religion and faith in his column “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler”. In a recent issue, one of the questions he answered was: “I’m a practicing Catholic and fascinated by other religions. My friends worry that if I learn about other religions I’ll start following them. Are they right?” His answer: “Just as professional basketball players can enjoy golf without fearing they will one day bring their clubs onto the court, so you can enjoy other religions without fearing you will one day start praying to Krishna rather than Christ. Knowledge is not something to fear. Friends who fear knowledge are.”
In another recent issue, he was interviewed and was posed the question: “Do you still consider yourself Jewish? His answer: “Yes. But I now see Judaism as a means for teaching universal truth rather than an end in and of itself. I still have a tribe but I’m no longer tribal”.
Born and raised in England, I grew up in the Presbyterian church. As a teenager, I moved away from the church and explored the world on my own, with some awareness of other religions and a vague interest in Buddhism. In my 20’s I found my way to my first meditation class where I discovered my unique spiritual nature.
Now, more than 30 years later, during my meditations I find myself reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Something I grew up with but which, in many ways, meant little to me at the time, has now become a source of comfort and inspiration. In the midst of the upheaval I created at the beginning of the year, when it feels like the ground is crumbling beneath my feet, I am able to combine meditation, prayer and my yoga teacher’s class closing “May I live like the lotus, at home in the muddy waters”.
Allowing your faith to grow and evolve with you over time, can make navigating those muddy waters, choppy seas and rocky paths a more positive experience even in times of discomfort.
A tree that is able to bend in the wind is stronger than one which cracks or breaks because it is rigid.
When faith is flexible, it grows stronger.