Why Bother With Spiritual Wellness?
Our mental wellness is tied to managing and caring about all the different aspects of our lives—the emotional and physical self, the spiritual, intellectual, and social self as well as our environmental, interpersonal and occupational areas. We are complex creatures and when all of these systems work in congruence to one another, the result is mental stability. But when they are incongruent, acting against one another, chaos reigns.
Though each of these areas of our mental wellness are interconnected, I thought it wise to break them apart and look at them individually. I know my writer’s group would say that this is better to do than to dump the big idea of mental wellness into the lap of my audience and then leave the load and move on. Thank God for my writer’s group!
Remember you are Dust
It is the season of Lent. In Christian terms, it lasts forty days, not including Sundays. It began on Wednesday, March 2, and will end on Thursday, April 14, just before the Passover and Easter Sunday. Growing up in a Catholic family, I remember Ash Wednesday. It was a somber event at church. I knelt at the altar along with my whole family while the priest dipped his thumb into a container of ash and made the sign of the cross on my forehead. He repeated the same words to every person kneeling at the altar, “Remember you are dust. From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”
Though I no longer practice the rituals associated with my Catholic upbringing, the words from my past still ring true. We are all mortals and no one gets out of here alive. Our lives will expire, but unlike the expiration date stamped on a carton of milk, we have no idea when our time on Earth is finished.
With several thousand different religions churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, and movements we have our pick of spiritual practices. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to religion.
But one thing I know is true: as mortal humans, we long to have meaning and purpose. We desire a present hope, as well as a future hope. To simply believe that we “work hard and then die” or that “the one with the most toys wins” is too hollow sounding and narcissistic for most of us. And because we cannot take our toys or our money with us, we look for something beyond ourselves.
The pursuit of our spiritual wellness is a journey. The path is not linear, and at times invisible. But along this course, there ought to be some benefits, some fruit, some kind of transformation from the inside out. If we are not becoming kinder, more forgiving and more generous with our love, then my practice is in vain. If I don’t pause to wonder, bubble over with joy at times, or have any peace, then again, my spiritual practice is not good. To be spiritually well means that my rituals will somehow shape me into something better. But if there are no changes, then why bother?
Why bother with spiritual wellness? There are benefits to a good spiritual practice—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, the kinds of things that give us a present hope, a future hope and a purpose.