Building Your Spiritual Home
Structures that Support Life
Over time, my life has become more and more a product of
my own wishes and vision. A favorite book title is “The
Life You Ordered Has Arrived”. For me, it has. I have
created the routines and structures that well match my inner
yearnings and preferences. I am a terrible creature of habit.
I exercise three mornings a week, I show up at work every
day at eight, and am home for dinner at six. I wear a turtleneck
and one of three pairs of pants every day. Every Sunday, my
wife and I show up at our Unitarian Church. I have lunch with
a fellow therapist, Bette, every month on Tuesday. Same with
another colleague, Ned, on a different Tuesday. My friend
Rick and I have had breakfast together every other Tuesday
for over fifteen years. Forever, I have had a date with my
wife every Thursday afternoon. Every summer I play golf Monday
and Wednesday mornings at 7 AM. I meet with my psychic group
the first Monday night of every month. Every other month I
meet with my spiritual therapy brethren. Every Sunday afternoon
all fall I go to Evan and Philippa’s house to see the
New England Patriots play football. And on and on.
These activities are the product of years and years of choosing
and committing, pruning and adding. I do almost nothing I
don’t want to do, and feel that what I have settled
into is a pretty clear externalization of who I am. We have
no television in our home, no daily newspaper. Our home is
warm, but unimpressive. In short, it’s all the way I
(and my wife) want it to be.
These routines are not the soul of my life. They are the
skeleton, the structure which enables. My life is like the
water which flows up from the structure of the fountain. Life
is the people, the relationships, the work that these structures
help me to manage. In a monastery, there are powerful structures
that support the spiritual work. They are not the spirit.
In themselves, they are dry and could become a prison. And
my life could be viewed as a prison. But, as some prisoners
say, all that structure leads to a great freedom. With few
day to day choices to make, my spirit is free to focus on
living and creating a life.
Another way I have imprisoned myself is by my internal commitment
to keep my word. If I say I will be somewhere at a certain
time, I always show up. Once I give my word, I never have
to ask myself “do I want to?”. “Do I feel
good enough?” Again, a kind of prison, but also a way
of making each day simple, predictable, without choices. That
plus my daily meditation and my constantly being in some form
of therapy give me plenty of time to focus on inner, rather
than outer, aspects of my life; on my yearnings and wishes
rather then the day to day details.
It’s hard to know whether this structure is more like
a shell to protect me from the world of choices, or a skeleton
which holds up and supports the flesh of my life. But having
fewer worldly decisions to make certainly helps provide space
to create an inner focus.
1) What are some habits (structures) you’ve created?
2) How do they support your life?
3) How do they limit your life?
4) What new habits (structures) might support you better?
GET A LIFE
THE JOY OF A DEPRESSED
OPENING MANY DOORS
THE PATH OF MEDITATION
GIVING UP CONTROL
MARRIAGE AS A CHANGE
STRUCTURES THAT SUPPORT
VERMONT AND NATURE
TO HELL WITH DIGNITY
COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD
WHAT SHAPES LIFE
MAKING FRIENDS WITH GOD