I’ve been building a list of favorite words for some time now, words that either sound wonderful to me, or create images of joy I want to keep uppermost in mind during the day. It may have stemmed from my desire for an equally long time to write a counter to the well-known Seven Deadly Sins entrenched in our culture with no popular counter from Virtue!
A while ago I came across the book Spiritual Literacy by Frederick and Mary Ann Brussat, a kind of “field guide” I’d say for learning how to approach life from a brighter, more spiritual perspective. The authors use hundreds of short “readings,” and also created a spiritual alphabet, or spiritualized alphabet, as in B is for beauty, or E for enthusiasm, I for imagination, L listening, P play, Vision, and so on.
The readings are from around the globe and across time, helping us learn how to recognize these qualities in action in our homes, communities and relationships. Am seeing this book as a sign to get started on my own project, using some of theirs along with mine, like my Delicious, Fabulous, Delightful, Gorgeous, Scrumptious, or Snowflake.
In their Introduction, the authors say they approached this project from the perspective of imagining being illiterate, “unable to read a book, a sign on the highway, a menu at a restaurant, or a story to a child.” Likewise they say, “Being spiritually illiterate” keeps us from recognizing “signs of Spirit in daily life.”
These days we’re seeing a plethora of new practices and disciplines from the “spiritual” genre such as yoga and exercise, meditation, prayer, alternative medicine, and of course the religious traditions we’ve always had to lead us more into Spirit. Often it feels like more for our “to do” list, maybe not enough of why, or what.
This books sheds some light on what a more spiritualized perspective looks like, what we’re aiming for other than simply the latest fad for better health, or getting all the things we want, combating stress. It helps a little to show there’s more to living than what we’ve been taught, or read about historically. And the good thing is the ideas come from across a wide spectrum so if you have a problem with one tradition, there’re plenty of others to glean from.
My list is designed to give me a daily focus to turn my attention from the “noise” coming “at me” from the planet, to the world inside me, the world of spirit and harmony that helps transform what I see and experience. So, if I start the day aiming to see just how much Majesty or Grace I can find, and how much I can bring forth, that will dictate to some degree what I’ll experience. It actually conforms to principles. Like gravity or the rules of mathematics. Grace is as real as gravity, but we have to “practice” it, we have to mentally lean in to borrow a popular term, until it becomes as natural, as automatic as gravity holding the physical in place. Or the principles of cyberspace transmitting thought and ideas, not bodies. Those principles have always been here, but no one was using them!
I’ve seen this work and in coming weeks and months I’ll write more about it. Some old-fashioned sayings may seem trite or silly but there’s principle behind them. We have a choice to accept the pictures of ugliness around us as real and inevitable, or try turning on our own inner light to transform our world and by so doing, the entire world. It says so in this Shay/Fisher/Goodwin song made famous by Mr. Louis Armstrong:
When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling
The whole world smiles with you
When you’re laughing, when you’re laughing
The sun comes shining through
But when you’re crying, you bring on the rain
So stop that sighing, be happy again
When you’re smiling, keep on smiling
The whole world smiles with you
“Life is a sacred adventure. Every day we encounter signs that point to the active presence of Spirit in the world around us. Spiritual literacy is the ability to read the signs written in the texts of our own experience. Whether viewed as a gift from God or a skill to be cultivated, this facility enables us to discern and decipher a world full of meaning.” (Spiritual Literacy).