I am busily getting ready for the Inhabit Conference. We have sent in our contributions to the welcome packets, cleaned rooms for our guests Shane Claiborne, Al Tizon and Andy Wade, and now its time to get my presentations ready. Then all I need is to get ready to party.
My workshop is entitled: Reimagining Everyday Spirituality – Rooted locally, linked globally. The word that keeps coming to me is one that my husband Tom focused on during the season of Lent “Be Attentive”. So I thought i would do some quick posts over the next few days that summarize what I will speak about. It is my growing conviction that in order to become mature followers of Christ we need to learn to be attentive – to ourselves, to others, to God and to God’s world. And out of that attentiveness we need to become creative and reimagine the spiritual practices that both nurture our spirits and keep us fully engaged in God’s world.
So what does it mean to be attentive to ourselves?
- First we need to be attentive to our bodies – getting regular exercise, a healthy diet and plenty of sleep are, believe it or not some of the most fundamental spiritual practices we can acquire. Listening to the rhythm of our bodies is also helpful. As the days lengthen into spring and then summer our bodies speed up and become more productive. As the days shorten in autumn and winter our bodies slow down. Being attentive to these rhythms, gearing our activities to flow to these rhythms makes us both more productive and more in synch with God’s ways.
- Second we need to be attentive to our minds. We live in a world in which it is very hard to shut off the clatter and clutter of our minds. Developing reflective practices like lectio divina, the prayer of examen, breathing prayers that enable us to do that is essential. One weekly practice I have found really helps me with this is my Sunday practice of journalling and then asking the questions: What am I grateful for? What am I struggling with? What bears the fingerprints of God? These questions have not only made me more attentive to myself but also to others and to God.
- Third we need to be attentive to our spirits. When we feel spiritually drained, depressed or distant from God we need to pause and take time to ask why. Spiritual retreats, not to listen to motivational speakers but to refresh our spirits are essential. Not allowing ourselves the time to refuel slowly erodes our spirits and destroys our faith.
- Start with a spiritual audit. This is a suggestion that I have made in the past to honestly evaluate our spiritual health and maturity so that we know what we need to focus our energy on.
So maybe you can’t attend the Inhabit conference, but you can work on being attentive to the ways God speaks to you and to the changes you need to make in order to be most effective as a follower of Christ.