In the Christian calendar today is the Feast of the Epiphany when the Three Kings visited the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem. Leaders in their earthly realms they were wise enough to offer gifts on bended knee, so the story goes, to the incarnate God they had sought and found. The political and the spiritual came together on this occasion. In some ways the Epiphany set the tone for an engaged spirituality that brings the social, political, and environmental realms within the spiritual realm. The wisdom of these Kings was that, upon their return trip home, they took the long way and avoided the snare laid out by a conniving King Herod, thus preserving their own lives as well as the life of Jesus. They had seen something new, someone who had given them hope and they were not about to squander that hope.
It seems to me that wisdom and hope are foundations of an engaged spirituality, which is a spirituality that requires one to include the realms of political, social and environmental action within the spiritual life. Consequently, I need to be attentive to both my inner world of reflection and my outer world of action for the improvement of systems. The way of engaged spirituality seeks to pay attention to how these two worlds intersect and how they support and at times challenge each other. This way will be the focus of this blog.
My hope with this blog is to offer reflections from the point of view of engaged spirituality, which is rooted in the traditional method of contemplation in action and is found in most world religions and in many philosophical approaches. My reflections will be offered through my Catholic and Celtic lenses of interpretation for these are how I read experience. You, dear reader, will have your own lens for interpretation. Such diversity of lenses adds to the spiritual way that engaged spirituality seeks to foster.
For me there are four phases to engaged spirituality: listening, discerning, engaging, and reflecting. Like most I pay attention to the four seasons of the year and I find that these often correspond to the four phases of engaged spirituality. So, during winter I lean towards listening; during spring I lean towards discerning; during summer I lean towards engaging; and during autumn I lean towards reflecting. Of course, unlike the four seasons of nature, which are often distinct, the phases of engaged spirituality often overlap and influence each other so that sometimes we might not see their distinct features. But, for the purpose of organizing this blog I will loosely organize my reflection on engaged spirituality along the seasons of nature.
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Like the Three Kings we need both courage and hope to follow the path of engaged spirituality. I wish you both in the days ahead. Blessings on you and those you love in the New Year.