When the new year began, the media filled with comments and stories about resolutions and goals, how to make and keep them, and reasons why we break them. I have not made a resolution but I do have one word I want to keep in my spiritual vision throughout 2018: Stretch
This simple word speaks to me as I approach another twelve months of spiritual growth. A year ago a friend introduced me to “Classical Stretch,” a fitness program meant to “re-balance bodies, keep joints healthy and pain-free, increase flexibility and release muscle tension, improve posture and range of motion.” That is quite a project to accomplish. I have learned that none of this can happen without concentration and the discipline that physical “stretching” requires. What does this have to do with spiritual growth? The “results” ofClassical Stretch can be applied as metaphors for the interior stretching that enables one to stay spiritually fit.
With that in mind, I plan to be attentive to the following for 2018:
I stretch outward…toward the magnificent cosmos, a reminder of mystery, wonder and the vast expanse of creation. I re-balance my perspective in the light of this cosmic view, a much wider vision in which my problems and passing frustrations seem small. (“Every time I see the space show I feel alive and spirited and connected…. I began to think of people not as masters of time and space but as participants in a great cosmic chain of being.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson)
I stretch inward…. to where my greatest strength and inspiration resides. I improve my inner flexibility by lessening the strain and stress of trying to manage everything by myself. (“I needed to realize that I was working not just for God but with God.” ~ Carolyn Woo)
I stretch around….to the suffering ones who exist both near and far. I improve my range of compassionate motion by restoring this virtue in my heart each day. (“There is no compassion greater than the fearless heart that can turn toward suffering and pain, tremble with empathy, and live with the commitment to end the causes of anguish.” ~Christina Feldman)
I stretch away from…my instinctual urge to take sides, fight back, mock or seek revenge for those whose ideas and way of life differ radically from mine. I improve my inner posture by nurturing peace. (“Praying for peace means becoming a reconciler—among individuals, groups, and nations, as well as with those from whom we are estranged.” ~ James Martin)
I stretch toward…hope that refuses to be obliterated by the turbulence and disjointedness currently submerging society. I release tension in my spiritual muscles by remaining confident of better days ahead. I practice this daily. (“If there is no hope, we are not Christian…do not allow yourselves to be robbed of hope.” ~ Pope Francis)
I stretch beyond…anything that keeps me from being at home with the Holy One, others and myself. I keep the loving joints of relationships strong by daily prayer and going beyond my self-orientation. This diminishes unnecessary pain and strengthens endurable kindness.
Abundant peace as you stretch into this new year,
Reproduced on the Marley Parish website by kind permission of Sister Joyce Rupp, osm.
Joyce Rupp/Servants of Mary, 1165 Office Park Rd., # 308, West Des Moines, IA 50265