Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sustaining the Spirit

       Yesterday I was part of a "Constructive Conversation" hosted by the Social Justice Living and Learning Community here at the University of Denver (and, yes, I'm writing again on a Saturday!  This won't become a habit!).   The question that was driving this particular conversation was (roughly), "How do we create a physically, socially, and spiritually sustainable community at the University?" I was struck, almost immediately, how quickly the conversation focused on the "spiritual" portion of the question.
       There were about 12-15 people sitting in the circle, not all of whom I knew.  And I certainly hadn't convened the conversation.  But there was clearly something about the topic that engaged folks.  Questions arose, from "How do religious student groups sustain/maintain themselves?" to "What kind of things are available for those who are seeking some sort of spiritual sustenance, but aren't really connected with one tradition or another?" to "What kinds of spaces are necessary to encourage connections -- not just between the individual and the divine, but also between individuals?"(suggesting that spiritual relationships also are maintained through person-to-person contact).
       I certainly came away with a lot of food for thought.  Some of that "food" translated into ideas for collaboration with various offices/departments around campus.  Some of it made me look at programming opportunities or options.  But much of what I've been mulling considering has been the question of "How DO we sustain our spirit?"  Some of the folks mentioned a sort of spiritual burn-out -- not the kind of burn-out that results from spiritual over-extension, but rather a burn-out from under-nourishment.  I can certainly equally be fatigued, when bike-riding, from too many hills as from too little food/fuel.
       And, so, I wonder -- both for myself and for those around me, and whom I serve.  "WHAT IS A SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR SPIRITUALITY?"  (And, yes, I know, I had the caps lock "on".)  I've been pondering, over the last 24 hours, what that means for me?
      And, although I know it's unusual, I have to wonder what that means for you, the readers of this reflection, the members of the University community.  And, although I've never really done this before, I invite you -- I ASK you -- to navigate over to my blogsite "On a bike and a prayer" (where you can comment on this reflection, relatively anonymously) with some answers to any of the following questions:
What does "spiritual sustainability" mean to you?
How do you sustain your spiritual life?
How might my office at the University of Denver help you, or provide resources to, sustain your spiritual life?
What resources would benefit you as you strive to maintain your connection to the divine, or that which is greater than you?
       We're all on a quest.  We may define, or nurture, it differently.  Many of the same resources, however, may be helpful.

Thank you, and blessings,


1 comment:

  1. As we sustain our physical, social, and mental lives, so must we sustain our spiritual lives. Spiritual food and drink, interaction with others, and introspection on our own relationship with our God are all essential components of sustaining one's spiritual life. For me, reading this blog weekly, reading the bible and having conversations about it with a close friend, and pausing to ponder the world through a spiritual lens are things I do to sustain my spiritual life.

    "Spiritual sustainability" to me, is the ability in life to have a continued engagement with the deep questions about what we don't understand, the nature of good and evil, things greater and lesser than us, what creates purpose, what creates meaning. It can also include practice of traditions and worship, but at some point traditions become an empty shell without deeper engagement. So I guess the best thing that your office can do, is to encourage us, the students, to continue asking those questions, and providing possible answers to some of them.