Devotional Week 9 Thursday
“(Woman) does not live by bread only.”
Deuteronomy 8: 3
Gaining an Understanding of Myself
Day 4: Understanding Myself Spiritually
“You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration in matters of your life than your heart needs a day off from beating. As you cannot take a day off morally and remain moral, you cannot take a day off spiritually and remain spiritual.”
How is God working in my life to build a “spiritual” home for Himself?
“Nothing in all nature is so lovely and so vigorous, so perfectly at home in its environment, as a fish in the sea. Its surroundings give to it a beauty, quality and power which is not its own. We take it out, and at once a poor, limp dull thing, fit for nothing, is gasping away its life. So the Soul, sunk in God, living the life of prayer, is supported, filled, transformed in beauty, by a vitality and a power which are not its own.”
“Spirituality is a way of living; it is also a way of following Jesus.”
Consuelo Del Prado
I am very fortunate to have been able to be surrounded, in my life, by women whose lives have been focused on spiritual values.
The reason these women have had such an impact on my life is that somehow they have been able to integrate the spiritual into all of life’s endeavors. One of these women was my mother-in-law, Zoila Valcárcel. She came to this country from Cuba in the late 1940’s. Seeing some of the changes taking place in their beloved country, my husband’s parents felt that in order to give their children a better life, they needed to come to the United States. The process of immigration was long and arduous. But they finally arrived and found a place to live and work. For over 40 years my mother-in-law worked in the same hospital in the newborn nursery from 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., five nights a week. She worked at night so she could be home during the day with her four children. Somewhere in between, she touched the lives of every person she met and you were better for having her in your life. And I forgot – once in a while she even got a little sleep, I think. In her personal life, she did not live pain-free. She almost died when my husband was born. In her early 40’s she was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time this was considered to be a death sentence but praise God she lived 45 more years. Thirty years later, she again battled a different form of cancer in her lung – even though she never smoked in her life. She suffered from severe osteoporosis which caused her to sustain a fractured hip and ribs. And as in nearly every family, her heart of love broke when her children suffered the pain of divorce, sickness and even death that took the life of her youngest daughter.
The interesting thing about my mother-in-law was that I never saw her preaching to or exhorting others on how they should live! She just “lived” everyday – a spiritual life. Her daily walk with Jesus was so integrated into all she did, it wasn’t something you could separate and say, “This is my work life, this is my spiritual life.” Her entire life was spiritual. And in no place was this element made more visible than when, at the age of around 80, she was diagnosed with Dementia. As her memory began to slip away, her recognition of those she had showered love upon in her life, began to fade, too. I’ll never forget one day sitting by her on the couch and I could tell by the look in her eyes that she did not know who I was. Yet, she took the Spanish translation of the Bible that was open on her lap and began to read one of her favorite Psalms to me. Smiling, she read each verse perfectly in Spanish. Her spiritual life was so engrained in every fiber of her being, it never left her life. What a testimony to living and walking with Jesus everyday. No disease could erase a lifetime spent in the presence of God.
The author Margaret Hebblethwaite made this observation about the challenge we face incorporating the spiritual into every moment of our daily lives:
“Our thinkers and guides have for centuries been men without a wife and family, and without a home unless it be a monastery. Yes, if it comes to a monastery we have learned to find the sacred in it. Monasteries are places that speak to us of God just by our walking around them. But we have not learned to relate to the sacred in the family home, so that just by walking around the house…we can feel we are drinking in draughts of God. We have not dared to think in those terms.”
I remember as a young girl, on several occasions, going to visit the beautiful Santa Barbara Mission, not too far from where our family lived at the time. My parents kept telling my sister and me to walk very quietly. The beautiful gardens and the worshipful chapel setting always left me feeling “holier” as a child. In fact, any church to me was always a “sacred space.”
How often as an adult, busy with the challenges of daily living, I longed to find “sacred space.” In fact, I noted when I was recently in my local bookstore that plenty of books are being written about how to carve out sacred time and space in our lives. And this is a great idea!
But the more I observe and study the lives of spiritual women, the more I realize that the “space” that needs to be our “sacred space” is inside each of us.
Thomas Merton writes that, “It is in the ordinary duties and labors of life that the Christian can and should develop (her) spiritual union with God.” And M. P. Follett goes even further when he states, “The divorce of our so-called spiritual life from our daily activities is a fatal dualism.” Dualism being the view that my world, Dorothy’s daily life, runs on two fundamentally different tracks – my secular activities and my spiritual activities.
Washington Gladdon in 1879 penned the words to what would become the hymn, “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee.” Here are just a few of the verses I want to end our devotional with as we daily seek to understand the spiritual in our lives:
“O Master let me walk with Thee
In lowly paths of service free,
Tell me Thy secret help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.
Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me Thy patience, still with Thee,
In closer, winning word of love;
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong…
In peace that only Thou canst give,
With Thee, O Master, let me live.”
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29: 13
“Lord, we are rivers running to Thy sea,
Our waves and ripples are derived from Thee:
A nothing we should have, a nothing be,
Except for Thee.
Sweet are the waters of Thy shoreless sea,
Make sweet our waters that make haste to Thee;
Pour in Thy sweetness, that
Ourselves may be Sweetness to Thee.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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