Welcome to Life as Spiritual Adventure
I love to travel. To me all of life, in fact, is an adventure. Whenever I travel somewhere, near or far, I research the place where I am going, and decide what things I want to see and explore. Traveling opens us to a life that is so much bigger than our small, provincial, day in, day out routines of sameness.
Everywhere I go, I meet new people. People of all ages, but for some reason, a lot of young people. When you meet a new person, and hear her or his story, the struggles and wounds, the hopes and dreams, it is another kind of adventure. It is like visiting a completely new landscape. Every person, every encounter, is amazing to me. I listen to each person’s story with reverence, knowing that in each person I glimpse the face of what I call God.
When the people I meet ask me “What do you do for a living?” for some reason my answer always surprises them! I am an ordained Lutheran Pastor of a congregation. Almost everyone says, “You don’t look like a pastor.” I reply, “Well, what is a pastor supposed to look like?” They usually say “An old guy, with a beard and a clerical collar, very stern looking.” I laugh at this because only a few of my colleagues fit this description, but I also think that maybe my vocation in this life is to engage those who would never talk to the old stern guy in a clerical collar. People I meet tell me “You look so “normal, I feel that I can talk to you.”
Inevitably, our conversations always become “spiritual.” Now “spiritual” can mean a lot of different things. To me it means that there is a bigger dimension to life, and to us human beings, than the physical, material world. I do not believe in a God who is above us and removed from us. I have studied and experienced most of the world’s religions, and have observed that we share so many things in common. Most of the major world religions teach that “God” is not only all around us, but also within us.
The thing I love the most about my own religious tradition, Christianity, is the “incarnation.” What the incarnation means to me is that God is not something or someone far away from us, or removed from our every day lives. No, God is “with us” (one of the names for Christ is Emmanuel, which means “God-with-us”) in every moment, every experience, every adventure and encounter of our lives. God is also “incarnate” (embodied) in every person we encounter, because everyone was created in the “Imago dei,” which is a Latin phrase that means “in the image and likeness of God.” So the guy next to you on the subway, or the young woman who hands you your morning coffee, or the old woman you pass by as she is struggling to climb the stairs, all reveal a glimpse of God to us. And…the really freaky part of it is that you and I also reveal the face of God to those we encounter! That’s the most amazing part of all.
Not only do most of the world religions think of God as part of everything, but so do artists and scientists. Sting sings “We are spirits in a material world.” Rabbi Heschel wrote “To live is holy.” An early Christian Father, Iranaeus wrote”The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” The Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us to live mindfully in every moment, because this very moment is sacred. Albert Einstein writes: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.”
Today I begin this blog because the people I meet on my travels have asked me to do this. I write this for everyone, but especially for those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” I think of life as a spiritual adventure. I know from experience that when you say “Yes” to God, when you say “Yes” to the spiritual dimension of life, life truly does become an adventure, because you never know where the Spirit will lead you! In every age spiritual people have shared the lessons they’ve learned from this life – from their own spiritual adventure – with others, especially with those who may be just embarking on this journey. In every age the message has been passed down through the media of that age: stories around a fire, drawings on the walls of a cave, oral tradition, sacred texts, stained glass, vaulted ceilings of cathedrals, art, music, television, poetry, dance, etc.
Today we are blessed with new technological media. One young man I know held up his i-phone and said, “This is my religious community.” Several others of the people I meet, especially young people, have said, “You should blog.” Today I am taking up their challenge in the birth of this blog, which I am calling “Life as Spiritual Adventure.” Because I am a busy Pastor of a very active congregation, I will start with a weekly blog.
Today it begins. I feel that it is a fortuitous beginning because today is the beginning of the week we Christians call “Holy Week.” What is Holy Week all about? Tune in later this week, as that will be the focus of our Life as Spiritual Adventure blog.
I hope you will join me on this Spiritual Adventure! I want it to be a two-way conversation. If you have spiritual questions or topics you want to focus on, please let me know. I do not have all the answers, but I have devoted my life to exploring its spiritual dimensions (you can check out my short bio here, and there is a longer one on my church’s website: firstlutheraneg.org). I may not be that “old guy with the beard and clerical collar,” but I am old enough to have learned a lot from my travels through many spiritual landscapes, and I do feel that at this point in my life, the Spirit is calling me to share what I have with others. Come, be part of “Life as Spiritual Adventure!” Today may you see God in all you encounter, and may you reflect God to all you encounter! Pastor Linda Forsberg (Copyright, 4/14/14)