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?

 

CHAPTERS

GET A LIFE
THE JOY OF A DEPRESSED MOTHER
OPENING MANY DOORS
GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH ANGER
THE PATH OF MEDITATION
GIVING UP CONTROL
MARRIAGE AS A CHANGE AGENT
STRUCTURES THAT SUPPORT LIFE
VERMONT AND NATURE
TO HELL WITH DIGNITY
COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD
DOUBLE VISION
WHAT SHAPES LIFE
DISMANTLING SELF
TOLERATING GOD’S LOVE
MAKING FRIENDS WITH GOD

 

 

back to top