WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SPIRITUAL PERSON?
I would like to dedicate this month as a time to reflect on the special word, spiritual. April is a time of change, a time for transition from winter to spring. It’s a time of new birth with gardens returning to their beauty. We also experience the beginning of baseball season. The weather can get confusing, delivering a little bit of everything. What happens to us during this seasonal change? I would like to share with you how the word spiritual has developed over my life’s journey.
As a child, the word spiritual always meant church and religion. The God of my understanding was a negative God filled with fear and guilt. In some ways a sad God centering on struggle and pain. The fear of God was put into me by the church and school of my generation. When I entered the seminary at age 14 I still did not understand spirituality. I was taught rules and forms of punishment if the rules were not followed. I was taught to be all things to all people. It was considered heresy to make time for yourself. We were taught to give not to receive. My spiritual journey took me on a real and crazy ride.
In 1966 when I was ordained a priest I had no idea who I was. I spent many years running myself into the ground doing for others. I was on a journey to save the world. For many years I completely forgot “me”. It took a lot of pain and almost ruined my health on this journey. Little did I know that God was leading me with the help of many teachers and messengers, to come to my awakening. In 1978 I was visiting a rehab center in Northeast Philadelphia for drugs and alcohol. One of the staff members invited me for lunch. While we ate he asked me to stay and give a lecture to the patients. He told me to speak on spirituality. Don’t ask me why, but I said I would and gave a talk for one hour. At the end he told me that it was really good and asked me to come back and give that talk once a month. I told him I didn’t remember what I said. He had taped it and gave it to me and I listened to it on my way home. I got a lot out of it. I know today it wasn’t me giving the talk it was my God reaching out to me. I truly believe today that God speaks to us through his people. This is a summary of that experience where I learned the true meaning of spirituality. It means to awaken to a discovery of our spirit. Each one of us was created by God for a purpose. I know now that to be a spiritual person is just to enjoy being you. Below are the four spiritual questions.
Do you love yourself? I know that unless I really love myself I can’t give love to others. I pray every day that I can learn to love and accept who I am. We are not mistakes. Every human being is connected to our Creator. The greatest adventure is to invest in loving and being positive to yourself. An old song says, “Getting to know me is getting to love me.” Let’s all take time to celebrate who we are.
Do you like yourself? Today I can say that my name is Vince DiPasquale and I am the only one there is of me on this earth. The only one who has to like me is me. We must all learn to be comfortable in our own skin. Celebrate yourself today and every day.
Do you respect yourself? This is a special question that tells us to take responsibility for our lives. I am responsible for my journey which means to no longer play the blame game or the victim game. Each one of us is the architect of our life. To be responsible is to be free.
Do you care about yourself? Each one of us is God’s creation. We need to ask ourselves some questions. Do we treat our bodies as something sacred to be honored? Do we take time to respect it with exercise, good food and adequate rest? Do we have gratitude for the body God gave us? Here are some beautiful principles that if we live by, will give the secret to spiritual growth:
A. Live life just for today. Yesterday is over, it’s part of our history. Your present experiences are our lessons for today. To live and celebrate life one day at a time is to keep life simple.
B. Stay in the presence of positive persons, places and situations. We will catch their positive attitudes. We will learn from their healthy examples and experiences. Ask God to help us release anything negative.
C. Stay connected to your Higher Power (the God of your understanding). Let’s all join the 4-H Club, the Higher Power Club, with honesty, humility, humor and healing. To be honest is to be free and is one of the strongest links to the God of our understanding. Humility is the gift to be open and teachable. It’s to have an open mind to all things along life’s journey and to be connected to God, our greatest teacher. Humor is the power to be able to laugh at life even when it’s not funny. Laughter is the greatest form of therapy on the face of the earth. Look in the mirror when you first get up in the morning. That’s funny! Loosen up, relax and go with the flow. Healing is learning to make settlement with all areas of life. It gives us a sense of peace and serenity. Our Higher Power wants us to learn from all of life’s experiences. In healing we develop new strengths and lessons for growth. Let’s all walk the journey of life with our Higher Power at our side.
D. GOD. The most beautiful definition of God is Good Orderly Direction. We all need direction and guidance on life’s journey. Let’s be open to listen and learn. Our spiritual guides are all around us. Let’s listen and learn.
E. Never Give Up. We are on life’s journey. We are never done. Life is a beautiful process of ever changing experiences. I hope and pray I will never be done. There is so much to discover.
So to be a spiritual person is to be a participant in the process of life. Let’s all continue to discover the wonderful gifts our Creator gave us. To be a spiritual person is to be open to life with a positive attitude. Enjoy life, it’s a precious gift. May God bless you.