Winter growth

by Hollis Hiscock

Happy New Year.

hollis-for-hollistorial-adj-clippedAs we enter the 2018 time and space allocated to us by the rhythm of seconds, minutes, days and months, those three words, which have been echoed since time immemorial, express eloquently our future hopes and expectations.

May the coming YEAR be filled with HAPPY-ness and NEW-ness as we discern and work out God’s purposes for our various personal situations against the backdrop milieu of our global community.

As we step, slide, jump or are pushed into the dawn and opportunities of each new day, let it be with the confidence that God waits there to greet us wherever we go and whatever we encounter.

Winter is a splendid season to grow spiritually – a time to examine, evaluate and transform our relationships with God and other humans.

To provide much needed guideposts to chart our journey, I turn to Victor Parachini’s “Nine ways to deepen your spirituality,” which first appeared in the newspaper, Episcopal Life. Here his suggestions appear in bold and my commentary follows.

BE QUIET– set aside time for solitude and meditation. 
This could involve one long meditation session or a series of short moments captured throughout one’s busy day.

BE ATTENTIVE – take time to listen to God as well as pray. 
Praying is a two way street … a dialogue, not a monologue.

BE LOVING – work to soften your judgement and widen your mercy. 
My grandmother-in-law would chide us, “if you’re big, be merciful.” Similarly true even if you are small or medium, strong or weak.

BE OPEN – spiritual growth can happen in any life situation.
Such opportunities can occur anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances and often when least expected.

BE KIND – acts of kindness bring us closer to God. 
As Jesus reminded us, “When you do an act of kindness to another human being you are doing it to me.” Some examples include donating to a food bank, visiting a sick person, giving your slightly worn clothes to a charity, visiting someone imprisoned in life or welcoming a stranger.

BE CURIOUS – spiritual opportunities come disguised in unexpected forms. 
To see God’s face in every person you meet may be a challenge at times, but out of such encounters, occasionally, your spirituality may grow and become stronger.

BE OPEN TO PAIN AND GRIEF – often the greatest spiritual growth emerges from pain and grief. 
Perhaps, when we are most vulnerable or at our lowest living point, is when we are most receptive for God’s presence to transform us into stronger more capable human beings.

BE HONEST – we are human, confess to God and ask for what you need. 
I find great solace and comfort in the invitation used in our public worship, “Let us confess our sins confident in God’s forgiveness.” Others may perceive this as arrogance, but I see it as a living example of God’s love spoken by Jesus from the cross, “Father (GOD) forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

BE FORGIVING – forgive others, let grudges go and move ahead. 
The “other” could be you, and forgiving oneself may be the most difficult to accomplish. Forgiving yourself or another human may not be easy to do, but because of it your spirituality could grow tremendously.

Celebrate and have fun as you put these principles into practice during the coming year.

Take a print or digital copy with you for your own reference throughout each day.

Observe and flag any improvements occurring in your spiritual life with God and/or your relationship with others.

Remember, improvements achieved by one individual benefit everybody.