This is a continuation of "My Spiritual Practices," a blog series highlighting a variety of people through interviews about their spiritual life and practices.
I love learning from other people, and in particular, learning how they live out their faith in daily life. Each person being interviewed is sharing an intimate look at their lives. For that, I am grateful. My hope is that these interviews will offer us a snapshot of how different people experience God in their lives, and that they might inspire and guide us in our own unique spiritual journeys.
How do you connect with God? What spiritual practices and rhythms do you have?
Through mindful interactions with a variety of people I come across throughout the day. Through conversational journaling. Through contemplation of nature. Through communion.
What daily or weekly spiritual practices are most important to you?
Phone prayer with friends. Examen before I fall asleep to get all the junk from the day off of me, cultivate gratitude, and transfer twinkling moments to long-term memory. Making space to create and give gifts to friends and neighbors.
Describe the environment that helps you best connect with God.
Semi-lit, semi-crowded cafes. Slow neighborhood walks during the 4pm-7pm golden hour listening to something mellow on repeat. Sitting on my kitchen counter with my cats and a view to the mountains through a tangle of telephone wires.
What tools or resources help you connect with God?
I like returning to texts that I’ve marked up so badly you can barely read them anymore. Henri Nouwen’s “Life of the Beloved” and Leslie Weatherhead’s “The Transforming Friendship” work really well for me. They’re familiar enough that I can sink into them in a meditative way and get reoriented and use them as a launchpad into whatever else God wants to do or say.
I’m a writer and artist, so it also helps to have paper and pen handy to jot down anything that comes up in me. It’s a way of staying connected to my body too--you’re physically participating in the experience by scribbling physical ink onto physical paper.
How have your spiritual practices changed over recent years?
They’ve shifted from being more one-on-one with God to being more communal. So whereas it was easiest to sit at a Peet’s Coffee with a bunch of theology books and a journal, now it’s easiest to sit with a friend at Peet’s Coffee and share what God’s up to in our lives.
On days when your schedule changes, are you able to adapt your spiritual practices to fit in with a different environment?
Sure, but mainly because my spiritual practices were never super tied to a specific time and place. Plus, as the theory goes, God is accessible everywhere all the time, so popping into intentional connection isn’t that hard if you have a variety of ways you can connect. And when you’re a parent, you simply have to develop multiple ways to connect because your life is constantly changing. Things like practicing his presence (or practicing being present period) can be done literally anywhere at any time.
Do you practice the Sabbath or spiritual retreat? If so, what does that look like for you?
So lucky to have Sundays “to myself,” which may be divided between mundane admin and organizing tasks, writing and art projects, and DO NOTHING time. But Sunday is a day I try to severely limit my social contact--whether in person or remotely and digitally. It’s time to process all the goings and stimulations of the week, decompress, and reorient.
What people or relationships contribute most to your spiritual growth?
Do I get bonus points if I say friendship with Larissa Marks?!?! Even if I don’t, it’s true. I have a couple other women I’m deeply connected to in vibrant, reciprocal friendship. My relationship with my Mom and my now-deceased mentor, Dallas Willard are WAY up there. And topping the charts is my relationship with my son--a never-ending opportunity to awaken to beauty and wildness and to learn to love and be loved.
What gets in the way of your spiritual growth?
Fragmented processes of living--too many mental tabs open at once crash my hard drive and prevent me from relaxing and being present. So I’m learning how to do one thing at a time...
Worry--about dumb stuff that has no basis in reality and that I can’t do anything about anyway. Trying to “get results” in my own way and time according to bizarre cultural standards.
Fear of change--keeping my foot on the brake so I don’t feel out of control often keeps me from taking risks that God is inviting me to go for. Listening to dead narratives about myself.
What do you do when you get spiritually stuck?
Eat Candy. Oh, productive things? It depends. Sometimes I’ll approach it indirectly by building up my momentum in other areas like physical health. It seems to have an empowering effect that carries over into my spiritual life. If I’m unable to do much on my own, I pretty instantly email or call someone to reflect some reality to me. Often being ridiculously silly helps to break the over-seriousness of hyper-spiritual, shaming self-talk that I can get into. And other times, you just batten down the hatches and hold on for dear life until the seas get calmer. Yeah, not so proactive, but whatever, it’s true.
How do you connect with God through life transitions?
With courage and grace. Haha, no I don’t. I’ve been historically terrible with navigating major changes. I tend to get deer-eyed and white knuckle the steering wheel. I will say, however, that over the last 2 years I’ve downright shocked myself at how I’ve grown some sea legs which keep me from capsizing through stormy straits, even if they don’t keep me from being violently seasick. I think part of the improvement is born from laying down my idealized self and a false expectation that God only wants to deal with me when I’ve got my crap together. How do I connect with him? In a salty, ragged cry from the deck, “Oh my God, WTF is going on?!” That works pretty well.
What is one particular way you’ve experienced God recently?
After not seeing my childhood best friend for over 7 years, we got together a few weeks ago and were stunned at how God has been at work in both of us. Our relationship had been unhealthy, requiring us to go our separate ways, but as we continued to pursue wholeness independently, God brought us both to a place as individuals where we were capable of restoring the friendship at a whole new level. It was such a surprise...and miracle.
What bit of wisdom from your own spiritual journey do you want others to know?
There is solid ground under our feet no matter what kind of tumultuous waters we’re going through. It is God who is always pursuing us no matter what we do or don’t do, are or aren’t. It is not finally about our grip on him, but his grip on us. And he’s not petty. He can handle us, with humor, focus, and creativity. And he is constantly working to connect us with other amazing souls to hatch and let fly collaborative projects that promote truth, beauty, and goodness. He’s basically way bigger and better than we think, and way more normal. And we can just freakin’ relax a little.
My Spiritual Practices: An Interview With Adele Booysen
My Spiritual Practices: An Interview With Mark Hage
My Spiritual Practices: An Interview With Brianna Wilkerson
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