Practical Spirituality in Relationships

This is the second post of advice from Opening To Love 365 Days A Year
by Judith Sherven, PhD, and James Sniechowski, PhD. Reprinted with permission.

Live your life as an act of spiritual love.

We must stop to observe ourselves before we make decisions or take action, in order to determine whether we were acting from a position of fear and our need to be in control, or from a place of love where we did what was right for everyone involved.

— Jim Britt


More and more people want the experience of spirituality in their lives. But what does that mean? The simplest definition makes it something you can experience every day. When you are conscious of other people’s lives having just as much value as yours, when you realize that everyone of us was created by the same Source, then you are in the expansive awareness called spiritual.

When you live your marriage and love your spouse as a daily meditation on practical spirituality, you make choices and express yourself according to what is best for both of you. You realize that you are an instrument of God’s abundance and to give is spiritual grace. You receive what is given you, because to reject the gift, would be to reject the Hand of God.

COMMIT TO LOVING AS A GIFT TO YOU BOTH, a gift of practical spirituality to All That Is.

Reinforce today’s ideas by saying this to yourself:

Loving my spouse is practical spirituality.

Sailing in Sydney Offers a New Perspective on Relationships

Ladder leading to pictureThis post is part of the “Step Into Pictures” series that offers you a new way to explore both difficult relationships and those you treasure. Visit the Step Into Pictures Archive to learn more about it.

03-23-15 - Sydney Harbor Sailboat Framed Signature

Sailing under a bridge in Sydney, Australia.

 Click on picture to see enlarged view

In a Step Into Pictures post last December, I featured the bow of an Edwardian vintage two-screw steamer on Lake Wakatipu in South New Zealand. That picture was taken on the same trip Down Under when I snapped a photo in Sydney Harbor of this sailboat about to go under a famous bridge whose name I can’t remember.

Again, I’ve used the free FotoSketcher program to turn my photo into a watercolor and think the “painting” has a better feeling than the photo. In any case, I hope you will use your imagination to step inside the frame and imagine you are actually sailing on a day when it is perfect for sailing.

Now I suggest you ask yourself whether there someone with whom are you having problems who might be amenable to finding a solution to your differences if you were out on the water.

Since there is a difference between being a passive passenger on a fair sized ship and being a crew member on a sailboat, that could determine whether you wanted to invite that person to join you on a ship or a sailboat.

And of course, some friends you enjoy might like this trip in your imagination better on one boat than on another.

In either case, enjoy the ride.

Can You Keep a Straight Face on a Trapeze?

I imagine that your reaction to the question in the title of this post is either: absolutely not, I would be terrified or, if I could pull it off, I would be grinning from ear to ear.

Well, this couple gives away nothing as you watch them do their routine with a total lack of expression on their faces.

When I first saw this video a couple weeks ago, I was so impressed that I had to tell my friends about it. Now I am telling you. Take a break and enjoy this most unusual trapeze act.

The Eleven Nations in North America

Last month I wrote a post called “Need Some Help in Understanding the World.” In it I talked about an article by Ezra Klein on the website VOX titled “22 Maps and Charts That Will Surprise You” and suggested you look at number seven.

In case you missed it, that map uses outlines of the states as a way to identify where the eleven “countries” or “nations” would be located in what we consider North American.

This is what the author said:

  1. America is so big that its states are the size of countries

“This map puts the sheer size of the United States into perspective. Montana is about the size of Japan. California is roughly as large as Iraq. Arizona is as large as the Philippines. Though, to be honest, I find this map surprising because some countries are much larger than I’d realized. I wouldn’t have guessed, for instance, that Burma is as large as Texas, or that New Zealand is the size of Colorado.”

Given the fact that so many countries with vast differences of culture and history could fit within the United States, it is interesting to read an article titled “Up in Arms,” by Colin Woodard, who wrote American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.

He points out that the battle lines of today’s debates over gun control, stand-your-own-ground laws and other violence-related issues (as well as other areas of disagreement) were drawn centuries ago by America’s early settlers.

We are told, of course, that we are “one nation.” Yet we live within different geographical areas comprised of like-minded people who came together to form alliances. This has resulted in beliefs and behaviors that support the underlying philosophy of the original settlers. Consequently, we now have to deal with the problem of finding common ground when we have conflicting philosophies toward social issues that go back a long time.

In the article by Woodard there is another map of North America. This one has outlines of the states in the background that are used to help the reader understand where the twelve “nations” of North America are located, grouped by counties rather than states.

Even if you only skim this long article and look at the map of “The American Nations Today,” I think you will have a better understanding of how our differences are reflected in historical settlement patterns and the lasting cultural fissures they established.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

What Makes You Come Alive?

A Quotation Worth Repeating by Harold Whitman

I used this quotation a few days ago when my twenty-five year old grandson came for an infrequent visit. He has had a number of low-paying jobs and I could see that he is still trying to figure out the path he wants to take in life.

At lunch he mentioned he had read some books about inventors and leaders who made a difference in the world. That made me wonder whether he would like to watch a couple episodes from a PBS DVD of How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson. He is a best-selling author who has discovered extraordinary stories behind six remarkable ideas — clean, time, glass, light, cold, and sound — that made modern life possible, and the unexpected and bizarre consequences each of these innovations triggered.

Since he was interested, we watched the first two programs. Then I turned to him and used the above quotation, saying I didn’t know what he would end up doing, but that I thought he would soon discover he had a gift to give the world.

His response pleased me when he replied, “Thanks for having faith in me.”

He knew I understood that he had been floundering, but that I saw something in him that others may not have. My advice reflected Joseph Campbell’s advice to “find your bliss.” I hoped my grandson could see that there was strength and creativity deep inside that he simply hadn’t yet discovered.

I tell you this story in order to illustrate how quotations from famous people — and from that ubiquitous author named “Anonymous” — can help us see ourselves and others in a way we’d not known before.

Why Quotations Are So Appealing 

I am using this story to introduce a new series of posts on quotations and to explain why I like quotations.

I think the best way to do that is to use a quotation from Citations: A Brief Anthology by Jasper Siegel Seneschal:

“Perhaps the most powerful and appealing aspect of another’s words, however, is simply their convenience. Whether distilled in the briefest apophthegm, or spread out across some voluminous tome, the thought is ready-made, the heavy lifting done. It’s there to be used like a weapon or tool, and as time wanders on, seemingly leaving us fewer and fewer new things to say, it becomes ever more useful.

As technology moves forward, as well, it also becomes much easier. Indeed, in this “information age” where so much is available to so many so quickly that enlightenment nearly verges on light pollution, it can sometimes appear that expression has been reduced to nothing more than a mad race to unearth and claim references. As such, the citation is also there to be donned, like some article of fashion from which we may reap the praise of discriminating taste without ever exerting ourself in the actual toil of manufacture.”

Look for another “Quotation to Remember” next month. Then pass it on to someone who would appreciate the sentiment it expresses.