When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
What was your earliest experience of The Unknowable, of The One, of God? How old were you when you first came to know that you were a part of something great and magnificent, vast, wondrous and loving?
I am not sure how old I was, but I was young, very young, perhaps, four- or five-years-old. My holy habit was to lay on my stomach in the green grass of our well-kept yard and look for Four Leaf Clovers. I still remember how soft the grass felt, how sweet it smelled, and how much fun it was to gently separate the longer pieces with my fingers in the hope of finding a tiny treasure tucked in there somewhere. Eureka! To find such a gem was the hallmark of my day.
Yet, more was stirring beneath the skies on those days, a feeling within me as I rested there—body cradled by earth and caressed by sun—of complete well being and belonging. A sense of being connected to everything, and that this everything was perfect just as it was. And Something, Something, had put this whole majestic scene together, including me. We all belonged together—earth and sky, Something and me.
Since those early days of clover hunting, Nature has consistently served as the portal for my connection to the Divine. And today was no exception.
Decades later, I find myself on the grass again. This time on a protective blanket, pillow under my head (because comfort matters more today than when I was young), gazing up at three sister maples, azure blue sky in the background, with nuthatches and chickadees darting up and down their branches. It has been years—eons, it seems—since I have rested under the firmament this way. No clock, no sense of time, only the movement of the sun across the sky. I turn on my side and surrender to the hum of cicadas, a sweet lullaby for the woman child in me who longs to connect with the Something on this most perfect of days; to remember the Oneness, the feeling of timeless belonging to Something so much grander than myself, and give myself over to its embrace.
Eyes closing, I drift and surrender to the song. I am a child again and the Divine One welcomes me as I am. Glory be.
I no longer search for Four Leaf Clovers. In fact, I stopped searching for anything a long time ago. Today, on this most precious blue-sky day, I simply let me go, for the only thing that prevents me from feeling the blessing of oneness is myself.
The child we were, the one who knew the hug of earth and kiss of sky, still lives in us, and is eager to reconnect with the Sacred as we did then. All we have to do is get our adult (oh, so mature) self out of the way and let go. Let go into Something. Or Nothing. Or Everything.
What was your earliest experience of the Sacred as a child? How did this experience shape your adult spirituality?
In 2008, my book Your Truest Self, was released by Sorin Books. When it made its way out into the big wide world, I felt tenuous about it. This was my most visible attempt yet to share what I had come to know was true about the nature of the spiritual journey. The book offered 12 Transformation Truths that could guide and enable women to live more peaceful, confident and open-hearted lives.
The first chapter alone, "I Am Free to Live a Spiritual Life of My Own Making," felt especially risky, because in it I wrote about my non-traditional approach to the spiritual life. I had often described myself as "having Christian roots and Buddhist wings." But there was more, so much more that I was not ready, nor confident enough to share about the wondrously, unique way I had met up with, welcomed, and integrated the Divine into my heart and life. This was an interspiritual journey of grand proportions, and one I was certain would banish me from certain circles once I revealed it.
It's time for the next step for me. And a new story. In fact, one month ago a spiritual friend said to me, "When are you going to write your memoir? People need to know this stuff." Hmmmm, I thought, perhaps someday. It still feels risky to go "out on a limb" in Shirley MacLaine fashion.
What I do know is this. It is time for me to speak up again about "The Heart of the Matter", at least in my view when it comes to our spiritual journeys, thus the focus of this blog. As well as the focus of a new online offering I'm getting ready to launch soon. It's an interspiritual dive into Perennial Wisdom as a time tested trail we can follow to access the deepest truths about how to live.
I'm starting the conversation about this here on my blog, sharing scraps of a not-yet-written memoir to lend support to what feels like a sea change: a growing number of people globally who long to experience the Sacred in their own unique way. And to do as Rabbi Rami Shapiro attests, "work for the spiritual liberation of humankind."
I am not alone in this holy purpose. According to the Pew Foundation and their survey of America's changing religious landscape, a growing number of individuals do not identify with traditional religion:
• 22% claim to be "unaffiliated"
• 15.8% are "nothing in particular"
• 4% are agnostic
• 3% are atheist
Additionally, the Pew Research Center reports that as many as 40% of millennials do not consider themselves to be religious.
This is the "sea change" of which I speak. And it is swelling, not just in America, but all over the globe. Many seekers are out to sea, untethered from tradition, or have "one toe in the pond." Others are rooted in a religious tradition but "want more," as one friend said it recently. There is a longing for a heartfelt spiritual connection but after much searching, they haven't found their "perfect fit." Then there are those who appear to be "spiritual but not religious" or claim "spiritual independence." And what about those who see a deep connection between the beautiful truths at the heart of each of the world's religions ("Perennial Wisdom"), but are frustrated that they do not see these values played out in the world at large?
So, this is where I find myself this September, 2017, eager to bring this conversation to the forefront and, most importantly, provide "temenos space" ("safe place" or "sanctuary" in Greek) for people to explore their inner lives, including all of the confusion or conflict they may feel about religion and spirituality at this point in our cultural evolution.
There is a new story to be written and I hope you will join me for the writing of it. Your voice matters and I treasure your contribution to this conversation.
Where do you find yourself in this changing religious landscape?
I very much enjoy writing for the Spiritual Directors International blog and wanted to share my latest post here. It's a topic near and dear to my heart—self-compassionate self-care. I hope this speaks to YOUR heart as well! May you continue to be gentle with yourself for, as I state in the article, "Desperate times call for deeper measures."
Read "Compassion Fatigue? Bring Yourself into the Circle of Care" here
From the archives:
A few years ago, I was asked 3 little questions about inner peace by a spiritual friend. I thought I'd share my answers here with you today. Despite the passage of time, my answers remain the same.
"Do you have a practice to cultivate inner peace in your life?"
Out of absolute necessity, I have many practices I use each day to stay as serene as possible. I was a nervous child. I kiddingly say that inherited worry genes from my dad’s side of the family and anxiety genes from my mother’s side. I tend to “feel” everything. So in 1994, when I’d maxed out my health due to stress (worry and anxiety too), I discovered mindfulness and the work of Thich Nhat Hanh. That was a turning point for me and since then I have had a deep passion for living as peacefully as possible.
My favorite inner peace practice is connecting with nature. Nature, for me, is my “God” connection. All of nature is sacred and all I need to do to feel relaxed and at ease in my life is to step outside, lift my face to the sky, breathe, and heighten my senses to get plugged into feelings of peace, gratitude and joy. Works every time!
"And, in what ways is that inner peace amplified/enriched by external?"
Mindfulness practice (which I have engaged in for over 20 years now) invites me to let everything in and use it as spiritual practice. If the world hands me a difficult situation, I can actually use this is a prompt to go within and access my innate peace. Peace is always there, ready for the taking. If the world offers up a delight, mindfulness allows me to stop, take notice, and indulge that experience. There are many exterior things that amplify peace for me. Nature, acts of kindness, art, music, the essence of people, animals. Simple things. The sound of leaves moving with the breeze, the touch of my husband’s hand, the sweet taste of ripe strawberries. Anything can touch our essence (our core) and amplify peace if we have the eyes to perceive it and the open heart to receive.
"Do you have a favorite quote about peace and if so, how do you apply it within your life?"
"No matter what is happening in our lives, peace is possible."
This phrase comes via one of my mentors, Sylvia Boorstein. No matter what is happening in the world, no matter how difficult things are, we have the capability to change our mind about how we respond to life. We can live elegantly, creating beauty, love and kindness everywhere we go. Or, we can perpetuate small-mindedness, live in fear or anger, creating dissension or harm—even to ourselves—by holding onto certain mindsets and behaviors. The choice is ever ours to embody our essence, which is peace. Anyone can do this. It simply takes the awareness and will to do so.
You might enjoy and glean great benefits from my book, Portable Peace: A Weekly Guidebook. If you want to feel more at ease within yourself and bring a blessing of peace to the world by being more calm, clear and wise, this book can take you there.
Learn more and read excepts here.
Available in paperback or as an e-book.
Recently, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Kenny Brixey of "Life's ToolBox" on Empower radio about the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute I co-founded with Dr. Jeanette Banashak and the topic of spiritual guidance.
We discussed some important questions:
What is spiritual guidance?
What is the importance of spiritual guidance in someone's life?
Can we ever serve as our own spiritual guide?
Can we be a spiritual guide for others?
"Now more than ever we could all use guidance in our lives. Understanding that guidance, how it works and where to find it are all keys to living a life that is in alignment with our greatest good. We do not have to rely on our own efforts and struggle along trying to make things fit in our lives. With spiritual guidance, we have a loving guide. We need only tune into it." ~ Kenny Brixey
You can listen to the broadcast here. (25 min.)
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we are meant to live.
Continue the conversation with me and others on my Facebook page.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.