It was J.R. Tolkien wrote "All who wander are not lost." It's a line from the poem "All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter" written for The Lord of the Rings.
It's a fitting statement because, according to the 2015 Pew Report survey on religion, 23% of all Americans claim to be "unaffiliated." 35% of Americans under 30 are unaffiliated. It seems many of us are doing a lot of wandering these days!
Additionally, the Pew survey projects that this number is on the rise, so much so that their previous projections for 2015 came in low. According to author Elizabeth Drescher, author of Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America's Nones, "Clearly, Nones are the overachievers of the US religious landscape."
I can relate.
In a recent blog post for Spiritual Directors International, I pondered my "wide and deep journey" and my passion for the search. I also made a plea for us to be cautious about how we label those who are not attached to religious institutions or communities, especially those who are seeking "outside the box" for a spirituality that rings true for them.
Wanderers? Yes. Lost? Not usually. Having a thrilled time searching for what matters most and how to live an authentic spiritual life may be more like it.
Here is my post. I hope you find it supportive of your own wanderings.
Someone said to me the other day, "I just don't know how much news to watch anymore." She was speaking about the negative and paralyzing effect the media was having on her. Everything she seemed to read and hear was focused on the current sorrow and suffering found in the world. Indeed, there is a great deal of that. This has been so from the beginning of time. As difficult as it is to admit, this is the nature of our deep humanity.
My friend expressed that she felt as if she were drowning in the difficulties, bombarded and energetically sabotaged by all of it—from newspaper, radio and television. Truly, our abundant media has brought the pain of the world into our living rooms, cars and hearts in an unprecedented way. We simply cannot avoid this. Even if we choose not to watch television news or talk radio, we can still be in a place to receive it messages, because, at least in the U.S., TVs are on, broadcasting news anywhere you go: doctor's office waiting rooms, restaurants, coffee shops and bars, train stations, airports, and more.
Who does not feel the effect of this? Even as I stood in line at my credit union the other day, I had to avert my eyes from two large television screens, one behind each teller's head, that was featuring world news. I was deeply saddened that my privacy and choice "not to watch" in that moment was compromised. Like anyone else, I wish to be educated on world events. I do not, however, want to be bombarded by news wherever I go.
Which brings me to the subject of compassion. When I struggle with the "too muchness" of the world, I am called to self-compassion because I am having a difficult time. My heart also goes out to others, to those who are suffering similarly, or caught in much worse circumstances, and I bring us into a circle of compassionate care within my mind's eye and heart. Any of us can do the same.
In any moment of suffering—yours, mine and ours—we can drop into our heart of compassion and hold every person there in tender embrace. It's a genuinely simple practice.. In fact, this practice brings great relief, even hopefulness, that we are at least doing something about an event or situation toward which we might feel powerless. It simply takes remembering to do so.
Here is something else that can help. It's a compassion practice taken from my book My Deepest Me. It's titled "True Compassion." I hope it lifts your heart. Read it here.
May Love live in you today.
I am a sixties and seventies sort of gal, and one of the songs that always touched my heart was sung by Dionne Warwick, “I Say a Little Prayer for You.” It's a sweet song about holding someone in your heart as you go through the day. I believe in prayer in all its forms. And there certainly are many them!
A few years ago, I spoke about prayer with my friend and mentor, Sylvia Boorstein. I asked her if there was one best way to pray. She reminded me that every time we turn ourselves toward the Sacred we are engaged in prayer. This is also what she said to me: "Whatever particular meditation practice we do, we are ardently hoping, indeed praying, for a peaceful and compassionate heart, for our own well-being and for the well -being of others. The very act of stopping to reorient ourselves—which is central to all meditation and prayer practices—and to focus our intention for the good, is a prayer."
I know this to be true. Yet, sometimes I feel the need for petitionary prayer, a real asking for guidance or assistance, or for help shifting my energy when I am out-of-sorts. Do you do this? What's so puzzling to me is that if we believe wholeheartedly in prayer and know that it works, how is it we forget to do it? I call this forgetting phenomenon “spiritual amnesia.”
Often, when I converse with someone in a spiritual guidance situation, and we're discussing a pressing issue in his or her life, I'll ask if they've taken it to prayer. Nine times out of ten, they'll pause and say, "I guess I forgot all about that." I understand, because I do, too.
Sometimes prayer is the only thing that we can do. It is our singular course of action when we are in a difficult situation, or when we've received bad news. Sometimes the best thing I can do at times like these is to surrender to life as it is and say, "Help me."
Who am I asking for help? I'm not always sure. More often than not it's God as I understand It. Or a wise, enlightened being—someone who is "God" personified. (Mary, Jesus, the Buddha—even the spirit of a deceased loved one.) I pray to align myself with divine wisdom, with the Universal Heart. These personifications are, for me, representations of living in perfect alignment, with Love, with all that is right and true. Though at other times when I pray, I am aware of trying to connect with my sacred self (my wiser self) to re-ignite my inner spark of knowing, especially when it's grown dim.
Today, I'm singing and praying right along with Dionne Warwick, offering a little prayer for you, for me, for all of us.
©2016, Janice L. Lundy
Excerpted from my newest book:
"Thank You" Is My Prayer: Reflections, Prayers and Blessings For a Grateful Heart
A one-of-a-kind collection of original blessings, poems, affirmations and reflective essays to help you hold onto your grateful heart—even when times are difficult.
Learn more and read excerpts here.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
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 co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.