'A Spacioius Presence'
Possibly, the more excellent spiritual work awaits us beyond what we have conceptualized as spiritual.
A hospice offered me to serve as a spiritual care coordinator - frequently called chaplain - at one of its sites. Before I accepted the job, the CEO wanted me to see what the work would be like. Hospice chaplaincy was unlike the chaplain work I had done - six years, all in corrections.
A spiritual care coordinator at another of its sites took me out on his patient visits. He told me a previous clergyperson had gone out with him. After returning to the office at the end of the day, that man commented he would not accept the job offer, saying matter-of-factly, "This is not what a chaplain does." Unlike him, after observing the work, I was glad to finalize the job offer.
Being a hospice chaplain was much unlike what I had thought it to be. Hospice, too, was much unlike what I had envisioned it would be. Earlier in my life, I would not have been able to be a hospice chaplain. I would have seen it to have little of the spiritual. Yet, it seems the first clergyperson bypassed an excellent opportunity at compassionate care. It seems he allowed his idea of spiritual care to deter his serving hospice patients and their families. Anyway, I found it to be profoundly spiritual and more pastoral than my many years as a Christian church pastor.
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Reflecting on this many years afterward, this arose to me - When you are spiritual, whatever work you do will be spiritual. A spiritual being does not have to do work that appears spiritual for it to be spiritual. In fact, I sense most spiritual work is not linked officially with any religion and does not have the accepted trappings of what many mean by spiritual. Spiritual is more about who you are than what you do.
And this word spiritual is relative. Wisely we need to be careful not to attach to any idea of what it is. This wisdom is like what Buddhists mean by beginner's mind. We live our lives with a sense of spaciousness, receptive to what might show up for us to engage. We keep the mind freshly open to see anew. What we experience as spiritual or see to be so may change from one moment to the next.
We are not to try to press life into a conceptual straightjacket of religious, spiritual, loving, compassionate, and so forth. These words cannot capture the essence each points to; the essence lives for it lives within us moment-to-moment. Therefore, objectively, no work is spiritual in itself, yet all work can be and become spiritual work to the one spiritual.
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So, in your life and work, in all you do, whatever it is, do not try to be spiritual or do spiritual work. Just meet life with an open-heart, compassionate presence. Being this authentic presence, all you do will reflect your kindness and grace.
For a christ, mechanic work is holy work. For a buddha, serving others at a grocery store checkout is compassionate, enlightened work. There are christs and buddhas everywhere - they live among us and look like us - being buddhas and christs in unsung acts of kindness and graciousness daily.
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book is a collection of poems based on mystical traditions, especially Christian and Sufi, with extensive notes on the teachings and imagery in the poetry.