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Nothing More Practical: Spirituality in 2020 by Keith Kristich

Dec 13, 2019

What is your single greatest hope for the year 2020? What is your single greatest desire for the New Year to come?

For yourself?
For your family?
For your country?
For the world?

As we enter the final weeks of 2019 and prepare for 2020, you may be thinking of many hopes and dreams for the upcoming year.

My personal hope is that 2020 will be a year of waking up to a “20/20“ vision, both for myself and the world at large. I hope for sharpness and clarity of sight and insight, born of deeper personal growth, conscious evolution, and greater wakefulness.

As I look to the future, I am keeping one particular quote in mind from the Jesuit Priest and spiritual guru, Anthony DeMello who said:

“Spirituality is the most practical thing in the whole wide world. I challenge anyone to think of anything more practical than spirituality as I have defined it—not piety, not devotion, not religion, not worship, but spirituality—waking up, waking up!”

Spirituality— “the most practical thing in the whole wide world”— really? Well of course!

Being “awake”, present, mindful, and consciously aware, what could be more practical? What in the world is more practical than actually being awake and alert to the moment and to reality as-it-is?

What is more practical than bringing wakefulness, presence, and consciousness into a world that is so deeply asleep to so many things: billions of fellow humans suffering in poverty and hunger, climate catastrophe experienced through hurricanes, wildfires, and melting glaciers, racial injustices in the US and beyond, gender inequalities, and income inequality, to name a few.

Both the world and my own inner-I could sure use some “waking up”- what DeMello calls “spirituality.”

But what must we do in order to wake up and stay awake? What is required of us?

The world’s Wisdom Traditions sing together a particular heartful answer: silent, still contemplative practice. Meditation and contemplative prayer are mainstays in spiritual traditions of waking and maintaining a wakefulness of spirit.

For myself, I know that my daily meditation practice, Centering Prayer is both the most spiritual thing I can do in my day, as well as the most practical. Centering Prayer allows for deep interior restfulness where I quietly wake up to the Greater Reality in which we are all immersed. Beyond that, I am able to bring that wakeful spirit into the world, so I can engage the world from my true Self, rather than from the ego-I of my mind’s conception.

The “practicality” of spirituality, is also captured quite succinctly in the well known Zen Koan:

 “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day.
Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

Oh the challenge! Especially during the holidays when everything in me says “There’s no time” or “I just have too much to do” or “I’ll meditate after such-and-such is complete.” At these times it is more important than ever to be committed, stable, and consistent to showing up to my meditation cushion and do “the work” of waking up.

To fail at my personal commitment to daily spiritual practice only results in the slow fading of the wakeful presence previously cultivated through “practical” spirituality.

So, my hope for the New Year is a strong commitment to the practice of spirituality, or “waking up”. It doesn’t have to be all that “spiritual”- but it sure is practical.

As you approach the end of 2019 and look forward to the possibilities of 2020, I simply want to encourage you to practice “spirituality”- to get in the business of “waking up” everyday in your own way. For your good, and the good of all beings

Wake up to yourself.
Wake up to your loved ones.
Wake up to the worlds needs.
Wake up to the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Wake up to what is most Sacred.

So again, I ask, what is your single greatest hope for 2020? Personally, I hope for greater wakefulness, both for myself and the greater global community.

Let us wake up together or not at all.

Keith Kristich lives in Buffalo, NY where he teaches meditation, contemplative prayer and the Enneagram. As a lover of spirituality and world religions, Keith seeks to help people slow down and connect with their deep self and the divine within. You can find more about Keith’s work at https://www.keithkristich.com/.