When I was starting this blog, a friend counseled me to avoid “fuzziness and vagueness” about spirituality. Good advice! Although spirituality has had a tangible, practical effect on my life for many years, I am still discovering more of what it means!
So, what is spirituality to me? I believe it’s the essence of our being, the fundamental nature of each one of us. In my experience, spirituality enables us to perceive and to act on our inherent goodness and to see the good in others. I can express spiritual qualities that uplift and inspire and see these qualities in others.
My dog, Jubi, for example, expresses these qualities in spades, and she brings them out in people who stop in their tracks to engage with her and find joy, loveliness, innocence, friendliness, openness. Yesterday, Jubi and I were in the local stationery store buying a birthday card for a friend. (The store also has dog treats.) A little girl spotted Jubi and immediately slid onto her knees and sidled up to pet the soft white fluff ball.
Jubi’s learned that her mission is to let everyone, especially children, approach and fondle her. She’ll see a 2 year old and become still, letting them brush their hands along her soft white back, run their fingers through her whispery tail, or lift up her ear pads to find an ear under her puffy hair.
On this particular day, the child’s dad stood by patiently for over 15 minutes while his daughter, in the middle of the stationery aisle showered Jubi with gentle caressing.
When the store clerk noticed this, she exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! That’s the cutest dog. I don’t like dogs. I’ve never pet a dog. But…can I pet her?” Around from behind the counter she scurried. First hesitating then squealing with delight, she reached out an affectionate hand. In the few moments of conversation that followed the young woman said she’d grown up in a Middle Eastern country where dogs weren’t part of family life. Now, almost in spite of herself, something switched on within her – delight, wonder, surprise, joy – evoked by encountering sweet love.
These qualities of patience and joy and gentle caring – these spiritual qualities – I have come to believe are natural to all of us. This is what I hope to explore in these blogs: how tangible is spirituality? What is its source? Is it a gift? Can we cultivate it? What practical difference can it make? How does it connect us with one another?
Meanwhile, the clerk ventures to feed her first-ever treat to Jubi. The little girl and her father walk out into the afternoon sunshine. And I buy a birthday card for a friend.