I recently had a conversation with a seasoned, career spiritual director whose husband is a Christian research scientist. As colleague spiritual directors, she and I conversed for some time about the nature of spiritual care with those who do not believe (or who do not think they believe) in God. It is something I had been thinking about for awhile. Her husband runs easily in that crowd, and since she and he share an active social life with his associates, many of them know what she does and I wondered about her experience in that regard.
Here’s a story she shared with me.
One of her husband’s friends who says he’s an atheist casually came up to her at a gathering and told her, “Please, I don’t want to hear any of that god s**t from you.” She responded politely she’d have no trouble being a friend.
Some time later, he and she were engaged in a conversation and it turned toward an experience he had had recently at the ocean shore. He was standing on the end of one of thoselong Los Angeles-area piers, and it was surrounded by jellyfish, hundreds of them, pulsating as they do, hovering just below the surface of the water. He was completely mesmerized, and found them so amazingly beautiful, even ethereal, that it brought him to tears right then and there. Even as he described it to her he choked back emotion. “What’s that all about, Kris?” he asked. She replied, “I’m not exactly sure what to say to you, as I happen to believe it has something to do with that God s**t...”
Several months ago I spoke at a retreatabout nature as one of the many spiritual pathways people engage in a meaningful journey toward God. There are numerous reasons why nature can serve men and women in this way, and I shared several of them. One is the nature of gratitude: there is something in us that needs someone or something to thank, something bigger than us, whatever it is. Philosophers and thinkers, Christian or not, have long said that the need for a human to express gratitude, even if its focus at the outset is to ‘the fates’ or to ‘mother earth,’ is an important step toward the possibility of a more informed spirituality. That’s one of the reasons why I often ask you to share this blog with others you know, Christ follower or not, who may themselves find nature a critical step along their way to a greater God-consciousness.
Philosophers have long said that the
need for a human to express gratitude is
an important step toward the possibility
of a more informed spirituality...
Back to the man of whom my new friend spoke. I pray he is on his way to recognize that there is One constantly ready to share his experience of beauty, to receive his thanks, One he can find has been waiting for that recognition by him all along.
~~ RGM, May 4, 2016
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