On Spiritual Food

I’ve often heard people comment on what happens at their churches with the phrase “I’m not being fed.” I’ve even had that thought myself after dozing through an uninspired sermon. But wait! Am I not responsible for choosing what I ingest physically and spiritually? beyond that, what do I ingest spiritually that is the equivalent of junk food?

What has fed and continues to feed me spiritually? This is not as easy a question to answer as you might think. First of all, I face the painful fact that traditional religious practices such as attending Mass often don’t feed me. On some mornings the music enriches me and perhaps the readings. There are mornings too when I have touched the mystical elements at church. But sadly I often leave hungry.

Thankfully, I find others ways to be fed. Here are a few ways:

Physical: 1.I do enjoy a good meal and fellowship with my wife. 2.Running is my form of meditation. Some of the most profound mystical moments I’ve had occurred while running; 3. Sexual intimacy can be profoundly spiritual.

Mental: Throughout this blog I have cited writers who have fed me. Nouwen. Merton. Bonhoeffer. Frankl. Thich Naht Hahn. Dorothy Day. These and other writers have consistently inspired and challenged me. I go back to them when hungry.

Emotional: There is no doubt but that I get fed nutritious spiritual food through the arts. Here are a few examples

Judy Collins singing “Amazing Grace”

Dylan Thomas reading “Do Not Go gentle into that Good Night”

The theme of hope in “The Shawshank Redemption”

If I am going to develop a menu of spiritual food then I also honestly need to face what is not healthy for my spirit.  For me, this would include anything with the power of addiction. Been there. Done that. It poisoned my spirit.   I’m also wary of anyone or anything who advertises having the answers. I don’t think there are any easy ones. But those easy answers can feel good going down.

Reflection: What feeds you spiritually?

About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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5 Responses to On Spiritual Food

  1. My list of sources for spiritual nutrition is a bit like yours: Richard Rohr, Pema Chodron, Cynthia Bourgeault, Eckhart Tolle, and many more, but nothing feeds me like being present (I mean really present) in nature. I love getting completely away from people and immersing myself in nature by literally touching, smelling, tasting, and seeing nature in ways that I don’t see anything else. It is riveting to watch animals do what they do in nature, but I also enjoy being present with stationery objects like trees, soil, and rocks. I have favorite places in nature that are like temples to me, and I would rather be in that “church” any Sunday than one with four walls. By immersing myself in nature many times with great intention and open heartedness, I begin to feel my inseparable oneness with it, and then it is no longer about how nature “feeds” me, but my relationship with nature becomes increasingly visceral until I feel and know that I am not just fed by nature; I AM nature.

  2. Chris Butler says:

    My experience as an Episcopalian is a bit different, because our congregations tend to be smaller and more communal. To me, this question raises another one, “Are you going there just for your own nourishment?” It’s important to other people that I am there, to confirm their conviction about sacraments and God’s love, just by my bothering to come to celebrate. It’s important to the fellow parishioner that somebody-if not me, who?– inquires about her grandson in the hospital. It important that the visitor is welcomed at coffee hour. Communities are like crocheted throws. If there is a dropped stitched, you notice.
    Spiritual nourishment is important, but it’s a two way street.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Swami Vivekananda…love reading his works!

  4. Susan Bass says:

    Every time I look into my son’s face I am nourished. I waited 40 years for him. That is not to say he doesn’t drive me crazy at times but that doesn’t mean that the love has to stop, as Dr. Patterson pointed out before he was born. Every time I receive a love text from my husband during a stress filled work day I am nourished. When I look out at the ocean and the trees from my tiny work cubicle, I am nourished. Sadly sex is not a spiritually nourishing experience for me as it is too connected to shame and painful experiences. Thank you for reminding me of all the ways our spirits are nurtured in addition to the religious ways.

  5. Richard says:

    What fills me spiritually is a walk in the park with my dog and some quick meditation under the big shady tree.

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