Journal Entry 1: Toward a Spiritual Life

Spirituality is a space to clarify personal beliefs about the mystery of being here. Spiritual beliefs are grounded in direct experience. Spiritual life is not something you can adopt or join. Others who have traveled this road may offer insight, but in the end, you must find it for yourself. Ironically, this is the essence of belonging.

In late 2022, I started a themed journal called, “Toward a Spiritual Life” which I continue to write in nearly every day. The journal entries presented here originate in it. The journal’s purpose is to cultivate an authentic and lived spirituality that improves my quality of life and appreciation of our world.

An important question to ask every morning is, “What will I give my attention to today?” It’s a remarkable question to ponder. I try to make this my first impression upon waking. It orients my presence toward attention, awareness, and observation. It imbues the day with the possibility of potential and discovery. And it grounds me in my body and physical senses.

My answer to the question of attention always resonates with the idea of catching a glimpse of divine light in everyday experience. As I write this, sunlight flows through the window, rests on my shoulder for a while, and whispers about the great mystery of creation. As the sun rises, so does life.

Some might say that sounds poetic but is ultimately superficial – perhaps even delusional. However, I feel the heat and warmth of the rising sun on my body, and it inspires my senses to perceive the experience of being alive with greater depth and breadth. My body intuitively responds to the presence of the sun and its light in ways that are simultaneously scientific and magical. I see no conflict between the two domains.

Still, I initially felt a sense of discomfort using words like divine, sacred, soul, spirit, creator, and especially God. My discomfort comes from not taking responsibility for developing a spiritual vocabulary instead of owning them and using spiritual words in a way that makes sense to me.

Many of the initial journal entries were variations of the theme of fumbling around with words. I discovered that this fumbling around is not only of great value but a necessary part of finding things out for yourself. Definitions do not

I would use a word like Creator and create a personal understanding of it, but struggle to use it in a natural and comfortable way. But this fumbling around, I discovered, is of great value. I share some of this fumbling around here. More importantly, I try to show its value.

Sometimes, I would write messages about myself to myself. As someone who struggles with neuropathic pain in my back and neck, the experience of pain can sometimes be difficult to manage. While imagining a spiritual approach to pain, I wrote this in my second journal entry:

Pain is just the surface of experience,
So are irritation and agitation,
Don’t be a surface dweller.

Looking back on it, I’m not sure how much I agree that pain is “just the surface of experience,” but I still agree with not being a surface dweller in life. Pain, as I started to recognize later, can also be informative, albeit in a very uncomfortable way.

These are the humble and tentative beginnings of a journal called, “Toward a Spiritual Life.” I don’t know where it will go or what it will produce. I figure the worst that can happen is having a deeper appreciation of life. And that is always a good thing.