My husband and son are in the midst of a major renovation project. The Trio blocks from childhood have come out and dinosaurs and farmyards are taking over our living room once again. Fact is, it has been many years since the Trios have been used, but as we seek less screen time and more creative outlets, I’m glad to see they’ve still got some value. They are clearly not only for kids, as my husband is having fun too, snapping spikes on a dinosaur.
I’m not much of a builder, at least not with blocks. But their industry and passion remind me that building a spiritual life requires persistence and a block by block approach as well.
First step – pull out the instructions. You may get lucky going at it with no clue what you’re doing – after all God is looking for you too. But there’s a better chance with a little knowledge of what’s possible that you might reach a particular goal. I guess the metaphor breaks down there, since you cannot build your way to a particular spiritual goal, but following some basic instructions on being open to God makes it more likely that the gifts of Divine presence can be received.
Next step – sort through a whole lot of pieces to find the ones that are right for right now. There are a lot of gurus, prayer practices, meditation words, workshops, and silent retreats out there. Not only can we not do it all, we will get quite confused and out of sync if we try. Choosing a triple piece when a quadruple piece is required falls short; choosing a double when a single will do sends your project careening off balance as well.
After that – connect the blocks one by one to start forming a spiritual lifestyle. It starts small and doesn’t look like much, but gradually it grows and takes on a form, at least something like the picture in the book.
Now the fun part – tear all that apart, throw away the instruction book and use those building blocks to build something new and wonderful that only you and God together could ever imagine. It seems like it might be alright to just start with this step, but I have found far greater joy in learning the discipline first and then finding freedom in tearing down and breaking free. You should have hear the laughter when the pterodactyl at our house landed on the barn and they all came crashing down in a colorful rainbow of chaotic fun.
What things are happening in your house right now to which you might compare the spiritual life? Can it be like cooking, or cleaning? Binging on one’s favorite TV show? Taking a wonderfully restful Sunday afternoon nap? What are some of the blocks that build up your spiritual life? What might your instruction book look like? Is there a picture you’re hoping it will all look like one day? What might be the fun in tearing all that down and starting over; same blocks, different spiritual gifts! Is it o.k. to “play” with God or do you have to be serious about it all the time?
Some people can play with blocks all by themselves for hours at a time, but my family tends to do it in pairs. We like having the help and having someone to laugh with us when we knock the tower over (accidentally or on purpose!). A spiritual director can be with you as you build up your own spiritual blocks into a blessed gift from God. Contact Openings: Let the Spirit In for more information on working with a spiritual director in person or online.