To be human is to be spiritual. Human spirituality can be greatly served by but is not limited to religious practice. Spirituality consists of at least three things: a sense of life’s meaning, a commitment to a purpose, and a connection to others, which often includes God or Higher Power.
Regarding this connection, I recommend Philip Yancey’s book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? This excerpt is from pages 207-208:
“On the hill behind my mountain home, each spring a pair of red foxes raises a litter of kits. The parents have grown quite accustomed to me roaming the hill and think it not at all strange that I stop in front of the den and whistle a greeting. Sometimes the young ones poke their faces out the crevice in the rock, sniffing the air and staring at me with alert, shiny eyes. Sometimes I hear them scrabbling around inside. Sometimes I hear nothing and assume them asleep.
“Once when a visitor from New Zealand stopped by, I took him to the den, warning him that he may see and hear nothing at all. ‘They are wild animals, you know,’ I said. ‘We’re not in charge. It’s up to them whether they make an appearance or not.’
“A bold young fox did poke his nose out of the den that day, thrilling my visitor, and a few weeks later I received a letter from him, now back home in New Zealand. As he reflected on it, oddly enough, my comment about foxes helped him understand God. He had just gone through a long season of depression. Sometimes God seemed as close as his wife or children. Sometimes he had no sense of God’s presence, no faith to lean on.
“’He is wild, you know,’ he wrote. ‘We’re not in charge.’
“’Come near to God and he will come near to you,’ wrote James the brother of Jesus. James does not put a time parameter on the second clause. He reminds me that keeping company with God involves two parties, and I have an important role to play in the relationship. As James suggests, I can purify my heart and humble my spirit. I am learning to take responsibility for my part and leave the rest to God.”
On page 210, Yancey shares this quote from Austin Farrer, an English Anglican theologian who was a friend of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien:
“I cannot commit myself into your hands, O God, I cannot do it; but yet I can commit myself into your hands; for though I cannot keep myself there, your fingers can hold me there, your strong gentle fingers always giving way and never letting go; your wise subtle fingers, wrestling so gently against my puny rebellions, that I tire myself trying to climb out of your hands, and come to rest at last in those wounded palms.”
Jesus said, “The wind (or Spirit) blows wherever it pleases” (John 3:8). Raise your sails and get ready for the ride!
Russel Jarvis has lived in Hancock County since 1989 and has served as the lead chaplain at Hancock Regional Hospital since August 2003. This weekly column is written by local clergy members. Send comments to [email protected].