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Spirituality Essay:

Your Spiritual Journey    ( November 2007 )

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Are you significantly different than the person you were in your 20's. Why? - and how did that happen?

Each of us is on our own unique spiritual journey. The things that have happened to us and the spiritual path we've chosen have happened to no other person. From birth to death, we encounter a host of unique things that influence, teach, and ultimately define our growth. Our spiritual nature grows similarly. What we've come to believe, what we want to create in our time on this earth, how we perceive our relationship with the bigger picture of life and the world all stem from our unique history.

A useful tool for getting an understanding of who we spiritually are and how we got here, as suggested in the UU "Building Your Own Theology" program, is creating a map of your own spiritual journey. It might seem a bit intimidating at first, but it can be quite illuminating - and actually fun.

On this map will be all the significant events and shifts in your spiritual development, from birth to now . . . so you can see the evolution of influences that led to who you are now.

Begin with the obvious things: your childhood religion; major realizations and epiphanies; religious and spiritual experiences; when you became a UU; people and events that significantly changed you.

Feel free to add others, of course, as they come to mind - for once you start this you'll probably find all sorts of thoughts in the back recesses of your mind coming forth. Then, and perhaps of greater value, alongside these major markings, write down any realizations that pop into your mind, beliefs or values that changed - like when becoming a parent, feeling that someone else's life mattered more than your own, etc.

Have fun with it - use colors, physical features (desert for stagnant time? . . . a big hill for a divorce? etc.), symbols (a gravestone if someone important died, hearts when you felt you loved most strongly, etc.). Look at times when your spiritual progress took off or regressed (and why).

Insights usually appear gradually, so let this map evolve and grow over time. I think you'll learn an awful lot about yourself.

Suggestion: this kind of wonderful personal work often never gets started because it seems so foreboding and the benefits so "iffy." So: prime the pump . . . just get out a piece of paper - now - and put an X on the left for birth and another on the right for 2007 . . . and a line in between. That's all. Ten leave it out where you can, over time, gradually fill it in. For once started, exciting new realizations and ideas will probably start coming - with surprising benefits.

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
Read more about Rick Childs or send e-mail to:
Read more about the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast.

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