Voices on everyday spirituality

Each month we ask our readers to respond to a question. For March we asked: How does spirituality show up in your everyday life? Readers share their everyday spirituality. 

Congressional diversity at home

Amidst the hateful political rhetoric in the United States right now, I am pausing for a moment to celebrate and be grateful for the fact that between my congressman and two U.S. senators, I am represented in Congress by a person of Muslim faith, a person of Jewish faith, and a person of Christian faith. This is awesome and reflects what is great about the United States. 

Kate Knuth, Minneapolis 

“Women Admiring Seeds” by DeAnne L. Parks

My intertwined practice

Where do my art and faith intersect? The answer is, they don’t intersect, they are intertwined. I am a fulltime visual artist. For me, creating art is a vocation, spiritual practice and act of faith. I show up without a plan for a finished piece. As I create chaos on the canvas, words come to mind and I quickly jot them down on the index cards I keep on my easel. Images rise above the chaos and when the work is finished, those cards contain both the title and the story of the piece. Many of my artworks are related to themes of social justice, often conveyed through New Testament stories. The bright paintings express themes related to spirituality and human relationships, especially those of community, hope and love.

DeAnne L. Parks, St. Paul

Creating my own spiritual moments

As a poet and an introvert, I can easily find spirituality in the blue shadows of late afternoon snow, say, or the peace of a morning prayer. 

It’s the grittier kind that arises through daily interaction with others that I’m learning to cultivate. 

When I’m riding the bus, I can remain insular or I can smile at the distracted young mother across from me and share a small sweet bond when she smiles back. 

I can avoid a conflict at work and simmer with resentment or I can face a person and say what I need to say without getting angry or dramatic. The next day, we can wish each other good morning and mean it because we were willing to endure some discomfort to reach an understanding. 

Rather than waiting to receive it, I can create the spiritual every day, every hour – in elevators and waiting rooms and supermarket lines. 

Francine Marie Tolf, Minneapolis 

Regular contact with “God”

These simple things can bring me into close contact with the God of my understanding: watching three cardinal couples happily sharing at my backyard feeder; shoveling snow slowly and repetitively in the stillness of predawn mornings; listening to the splendid choir at my church as they raise voices in acclamation and faithfulness; considering the simple and profound fact that there is a force in the universe – call it “God” or something else entirely – that wishes me well and that can hold out spiritual assistance if and when I still my busy brain enough to hear and heed guidance. 

I don’t need huge moments of blinding revelation; those don’t come often. But my cardinals come most dusks, snow falls every winter, the choir sings every Sunday except in summer, and my survival attests to a loving presence in my life. 

Toni McNaron, Minneapolis 

The beauty of ‘right now’

I have allowed God to free me from the chains of addiction. I practice spiritual fitness. 

Upon awakening, I thank God for giving me another day to step outside of my own selfish life and to help another human being. The “right now” is my teacher. I stand in the light of my creator and make a choice; whether to live in the “right now,” to wallow in my past or to be anxious about the future. I breathe in the air of where I am. 

I am allowing God to change me. I transform issues into opportunities. I am retraining my brain to change a negative thought into a positive one, a paradigm shift. I see love and beauty every single day. Spirituality doesn’t just show up when I need it. It is the very essence, the reason for and the hope for my life. Moment to precious moment. 

Denise Sumpter, Brooklyn Center

Three sisters in spirit

courtesy photo

I’m a non-theist, starting in my childhood when all God-talk seemed by and about guys. Recently I’m learning about deeper things. One source is the Quakers, or Friends, who worship in silence, without dogma, supporting each person’s quest for simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship. Another is Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez, a Pueblo woman who sees violence against Mother Earth as part and parcel of violence against women. She prays to the earth, to ancestors, to all gods, giving laughter and lavender everywhere she goes. Now I carry three “sisters in spirit,” not to worship, but to remind me of important things, such as love and beauty. 

Bonnie Peace, Watkins, St. Paul 

Our daily bread

Spirituality centers my day. I rise with words of thanks on my lips. In the soft light of morning, I glimpse a prayer through my window: the sunrise bleaching to day through leafless trees. When the thoughts buzzing through my head get frantic and my to-do list whispers stress, I breathe in – deep, measured, and slow – close my eyes, and pray. Creativity flows from the Spirit as I sit down to write. At dinner, we gather together around our daily bread, hold hands, and give thanks. As we eat, we share with one another the day’s burdens, joys and dreams. Every honest conversation is a space for prayer, giving and taking and giving again. The sun goes down. In the quiet rhythm of the night, my heart sings a song of gratitude for the day past, and hope for the day to come. 

Taylor Harwood, Minneapolis 

The lightness of laughter

I have been a humor educator for 25 years; I’ve written about spirituality and humor and led workshops on the topic. When Rev. Susan Sparks, author of “Laugh Your Way to Grace,” suggested laughter as a spiritual practice, I was delighted. A woman after my own heart, I “teach” that humor is more about being light-hearted than about jokes. One way I explore laughter as a spiritual practice is to ask people what lightens their hearts. What gives them joy? What makes them laugh? Even if what they share isn’t funny to me, watching their delight in their answers gladdens my heart. 

As I take on laughter as a spiritual practice, I am becoming lighter and funnier (even if I do say so myself). I wrote a book on the delightful things children say, so people share funny stories with me. A recent favorite is about the little girl who saw a naked boy for the first time. Her mother was changing the diaper of the baby. The little girl stared and stared, then said to her mother, “He’s lucky that thing didn’t end up on his face.” 

Linda Hutchinson, Richfield 

Editor’s Note: Hutchinson is the author of “Laugh Yourself Happy: Kids Say Delightful Things.” 

Sacred Joy

Eleven – the numerology symbol for spiritual, mystical and angelic realms – constantly reminds me of spiritual dimensions through pragmatic math sequences on license plates and clocks. My heart hears music, the voices of singing ancestors replacing grief with joyful memories. Daily walks among nature, honoring the elements of wind, earth, fire, water, spirit grab my attention for gratitude. Tree wisdom whispers seasonal sage and nurturing messages along these walks, transporting me far away to practice skinrin-yoku (forest bathing). During yoga, my quiet community of gathered stretching souls offers collective praise for our individual flames, connecting us inwardly to Source. Exploring churches and sacred places during off times invites beauty and “solitude inhalation” of all that is revered. Holding the power of healing crystals, heated hands, intuitive gifts for fostering well-being – gentle, kind nudges of ancient practices steadfastly knock on my consciousness. Sacred Joy – generosity, gratitude, grace, compassion – spiritually lights me ALLways. 

Mary Schoessler, St. Louis Park