I recently participated in a group where the discussion topic was an examination of spirituality. How to find it? Is it important? What is it like? Where is it? Does it exist?
You wouldn’t have been surprised to hear words like meditation, prayer, and reverence come to mind. And they did to a small degree. But for the most part the sharing centered on what we might deem “the simple pleasures.” The thrill of the first daffodil in spring. The touching gesture of a stranger, as in “random acts of kindness.” My husband bringing me a treat, just at the perfect moment, as I sit hunched over my computer. Hugging my daughter, inhaling her sweet scent, fresh from the playground.
It is those seemingly little things that I relate to, along with mystical moments of collective consciousness.
The quote I liked best from that day was by Pierre Teiland de Chardin – “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Amen.
It reminded me of a time on a train. I was traveling alone up the California coast when the voice over the intercom announced that we would be pulling aside and stopping in order to let freight cars pass. And it would be an hour perhaps, or more, as the other train had experienced mechanical difficulty but had precedence. Annoyance, consternation, it was late at night. We all had friends and relatives waiting at the northern station.
But what occurred as the result of this delay became, instead of a nasty irritation, a transcendental exchange among strangers. Assume that the stars were aligned, just so, that night. Or some highly spiritual being was the catalyst aboard. Or merely that the political science professor who had been my seatmate charmed the steward into pulling out some wine and snacks, for our trouble. Whatever the reason, magic ensued. Something divine happened. Every person on that stalled railroad car connected and I would guess, felt the better for it and would ever after remember it as a spiritual moment in time.
I had been steeped in this remembrance while continuing to contemplate the topic of spirituality this past week, when I received a blog entry from Shelley Odendahl, who I met at a writer’s workshop last year. I have been following her writing ever since. We are both attuned and particularly interested in the nuances which make up a journey through life. Hence her blog, which is entitled – REALIZE YOUR DREAMS.
I asked Shelly if I might share her latest offering. It’s another example of a magical moment in time. It follows:
CONVERSATION AMONG STRANGERS
“You know how it is when you sit in a waiting room at a doctor’s office? Everybody just keeps to their own little space. Sometimes there is a nod of the head, or handing over of a newspaper, but mostly there’s just silence.
Yesterday I was part of a friendly group that kicked the silence model right out the door. It started when two retirement-aged women started talking and comparing notes on something. I put down my Kindle and joined in. A man came in and he participated in the conversation too. One of the women’s husband and daughter entered, so we all introduced ourselves. (Yes, we actually shared names in the doctor’s waiting room…unheard of!) a couple of people noted how much fun we were having, and one called it a party. It was almost sad when the nurse came to call somebody into the examination room and they had to leave. While her mother saw the doctor, the daughter and I had a nice conversation about retailing. After they left, one of the women who had been telling us about her frustrating medical condition popped her head in before she left to let me know she was doing much better. Then I was alone in the room.
Before long, an elderly man came in, preparing to sit in the usual silence. I wasn’t ready to let the conversation end, so I asked him a question. Before long, he was telling me about his life – he was in his nineties and was upset he couldn’t do all the things he used to be able to do. He had a lot of physical complaints and didn’t seem to have much companionship in life. I am hoping that maybe a brief show of interest from a stranger may have given him just a little comfort. I wished him well.
When I went back to college a few years ago, I chose to major in Communication Studies. I became passionate about the power of honest communication and authentic interactions to change the world. Yesterday we might not have made any big, outright changes, but together a small group of people helped make a positive impact on each other’s day. That has to be a contribution to what is right in the world.” Another Amen.
You can follow Shelley’s blog at: “Shelley O. at Realize Your Dreams.Wordpress.com” and order her book on Amazon, “TRAVELING TOGETHER: CLIFF AND ME AND THE MOTORCYCLE MAKES THREE,” which is described as a 1980’s love story.