As the March winds were bringing forth April showers this month at Hope Grows, we were transitioning from our focus of self-acceptance to spiritual purpose. While the focus of the month was picked late last year, I can’t help but think about the importance of April’s focus.
More so than ever, during this time of social distancing and the spread of COVID-19, what does it mean to have spiritual purpose? As we watched the news and saw the cases rise, we couldn’t help but feel a tug at the heart, both for others and for ourselves. Was that tug from faith or spirituality or both?
As a spiritual and bereavement counselor in hospice for many years, spiritual purpose became the first and foremost topic of discussion with someone facing death. The basis of my conversation became how someone was finding meaning during this time of their life, whether they felt valued and what sense were they making of their terminal diagnosis.
The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion
Spirituality and religion are words that are typically interchangeable. However, they are different. Religion is a set of beliefs involving ritual practice. Spirituality is the physical nature of being as it relates to the inner psyche and soul of a person.
In times of upheaval, confusion and pandemics, people usually turn to ritual and religion for comfort. I’ll be the first to admit that I have pulled out the rosary beads a time or two and started in prayer and singing the Beatles words to “Let It Be”: “Mother Mary, come to me.”
I will say though, after 12 years of Catholic school and quite a few years of practicing Catholicism, I did not find spirituality until I connected with Mother Earth. For me, spirituality didn’t come from ritual, it came from within, from following and being the light of giving, loving, and doing. Being in nature and working the earth helped my psyche, my mental state, be at its healthiest.
Spread the Light
So, perhaps during this time of social distancing, try to spread the light and be the light in ways that feel right for you. While some feelings of dismay and fear will always creep in – after all, we are human – think about how you are going to find spiritual purpose. Continue to practice the ritual where you learned faith and what makes you feel comfortable, but try and ask those spiritual purpose questions: how are you finding meaning during this crisis, are you feeling valued and what sense are you making of the situation?. And in the end, don’t we all want to reach for the light, be the light, and spread the light? The Hope Grows choice of flower for this month’s focus was the tulip. Tulips are sun seekers. They follow the light and contort their stems to do so. I think we all could use the advice of the tulip flower, in that, it is important no matter how dark it may seem, we just may need to twist and move ourselves to follow the light.