9 September 2018
Amis Letter 02: Searching
Hallo once again!
In the Introduction, I have mentioned that Amis is “a course in spirituality”. For some the idea of spiritual growth is a deep deep yearning while for others that could sound rather daunting. Both the words “course” and “spirituality” could sound strange and heavy. It need not be. It is an opportunity to live reflectively, deeply and with joy. It is your choice how deep you want to emerge yourself in the journey.
In our deepest being we are all on some search. Perhaps you have asked yourself this question: what is my search?
These searches or longings often change as we journey through life. So much depends on the phase we are in. What we look and long for when we are in our twenties and thirties might be very different from what we desire when we are in our later years. Stages in life are very real. Richard Rohr speaks about a first and a second life. The idea of “mid-life crisis” is well known. Raising your own children creates different realities than looking after your grandchildren.
So… what is your search now?
Today many people, regardless their stage in life, are searching for “spirituality”. Spirituality is a vague word, but has become very popular in the last 20 years. Spirituality is, like friendship, one of those words which refuse to be defined easily. The reason is because it encompasses our whole being – mind, body and spirit. Is has to do with who we are in our deepest being. It is engrained deep within us. It is a yearning for God, for meaning, for “life in its fullest” to use Jesus’ words from John 10.
For some, the word spirituality (or the subject of spirituality) is too religious. Someone might think: Only those who have are “religiously inclined” would be interested in doing a course on spirituality. But I believe we cannot separate life into the spiritual and the non-spiritual. It is all about how we do life: how we think and reflect, how we speak and keep silent, how we have fun and how we mourn, how we party and how we react in times of trouble. I remember how we previously had made a distinction between “things spiritual or sacred” and “things mundane” (the “earthier” or even profane side of life). As students we had annual fundraising concert tours. These concerts were often divided in the humorous first part (before the break) and then the more serious “spiritual” second half. Perhaps we should do away with this distinction or separation. We are too complex for that. We pray, and we are sexual beings. We sing, and we eat. Obviously, each has its place, but surely, they influence each other too!
And then we should recognise that our searches and longings are not just our individual journeys. In the book, The Study of Spirituality, the authors make the following statement: “an individual’s search for his or her own spirituality need not be, often cannot be a purely internal quest… by trial and error many guides may contribute to the individual’s unique development.” (The Study of Spirituality; Cheslyn Jones ed, xxii).
Our search is part of our personal stories, but it is not an “purely internal quest”. We are all imbedded in a bigger world. Other people and where we live are deeply involved in it. We have many guides, companions on the journey. It may be St John of the Cross (1542 – 14 December 1591), a spouse, a colleague or your friend on a golf course.
These guides can become our friends and our friends can be our guides. Whilst reading Henri Nouwen, I discovered his explanation of the word companion. Nouwen says it originated from the Latin com + panis which means those with whom we share bread. It is a beautiful image. Think of Jesus and the two disciples in Emmaus. They were companions. Friends - Amis.
Your search might be something concrete, something very practical. Like starting a new business or making a decision about a career. It might be less tangible such as hope for peace of mind or a prayer for a child in difficulty. Perhaps you feel you have lost faith, certainty or direction. Very often we know deep down that we have a need but we don’t have the words to describe it ourselves.
Surely your search, your story is unique. Our lives differ. But perhaps a reassurance is good: you are not alone. We are all on some journey. It is like the pilgrims who walk to Santiago de Compostella. Each one has their own reason and motive, but they are all on the journey.
And this is your journey. You will have your own unique longing, search or struggle. Where do you find courage, support, guidance…?
I hope that through Amis you will find some companionship! Perhaps Amis could help along the way!
For reflection and conversation
What is your search or longing at this point of your life? Try to put it in words!
What are your thoughts on having spiritual guides?
Do you have guides or have you ever had? Perhaps it is a good idea to name them.
Are you a guide to someone?
Who are your companions – those who journey with you?
Perhaps you have a question or comment. Remember that you could email firstname.lastname@example.org or write on the Facebook group “Amis Discussion Group”.
Until next week.