I just flew in from Greece and boy are my arms tired! I am still reveling in my recent spiritual pilgrimage with 25 Unity North travelers who sought meaning in the landscape of the foreign lands of Greece and St. Paul’s mind. Every corner and step contained within it the possibility of new insight, beauty, and grace and reminded us that the rewards are usually worth the journey.
As I mentioned on Sunday, Paul demonstrated beautifully for us that passionate spiritual desire inevitably causes us to come face to face with human limitation. Rather than run from or resist his example, there is great good to be found in walking a mile or two in his sandals.
Every day brings with it opportunities to remember that we are spiritual beings living in a very human experience and body. The dialogue dominating the conversation since landing back on U.S. soil has centered on this very topic. Our human bodies and egos sometimes appear to be fallible mechanisms and insurmountable hurdles on our quest for greater spiritual awareness. They don’t have to be. Many on this Greek pilgrimage dealt with limitations of body that caused frustration and upset. It was at times an arduous journey. From my perspective, the pace and physical demand of the pilgrimage also caused us to figure out new ways to do things that our bodies found difficult. Here is a reality: every great sage, prophet, and spiritual teacher throughout history, including St. Paul, had one thing in common; they eventually dealt with the finite and temporal reality of their bodies. The vehicle that is the human body is a wonderful tool to gather information, and to create experience and offer gifts, but the spirit is and has always been the source. Eventually we are all going to be confronted with the truth that the mileage on the vehicle has an effect. It is in these moments that we either access a greater truth of ourselves or wither in anger that the “car” is failing us. We can run from this or use the awareness to cultivate untapped spiritual resources that will be necessary tools for our next expression of living, here on earth and beyond. As we climbed hills, traversed rocky landscapes, and pressed forward at a rapid pace, many had to discover a strength that transcended the body. Almost without exception these courageous pilgrims found a creative spirit that allowed them to make the climb in a new way. Sometimes all a physical challenge needs is a greater use of spirit and intellect. Paul’s courage and tenacity took on a new depth.
I like to observe those who deal with physical limitations. In almost every case I see them being less “disabled” and much more “differently-abled” as they are driven to places where other faculties are awakened. My blind friends, for instance, have a sense of hearing that far exceeds mine. My deaf friends see more clearly than I do. I am in awe of those who have no arms who know how to use their feet to paint and drive. I am amazed at those who have no legs who have learned to use their arms in ways I cannot comprehend. In every case, the limitation of the physical has become a gift that awakens a deep spiritual creativity that is profound. As our spiritual band of pilgrims dealt with the finite reality of the physical realm, I witnessed a spiritual determination that ministered to me in tremendous ways. I know St. Paul had to access that same kind of spiritual grounding as he traveled great distances to spread his message. The finite reality of the world of matter can be a wonderful portal through which we access the expansive reality of our spiritual nature. In doing so we transcend limitation and prove spiritual truth.
So whatever the journey you are on or landscape you are currently traversing, be gratefully aware that the body is a gift of the temporal plain and the Spirit is the eternal gift of the Absolute. Your arms may get tired, but your Spirit will always reach the destination. This week I challenge and invite you to walk a mile or two in Paul’s sandals and discover new and beautiful truths about yourself. Talk to your body, let it talk to you, and let it be the tool that guides you home to God.