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Integrating God in Our Lives

God dwells within us. God’s Spirit is our mentor, our guide, our inner force. We know all that. But how do we make this theological truth real and meaningful? How do we more deeply integrate God into our lived experience?

Prayer Approach. We can and should pray daily for greater faith in an indwelling God and his creative work within us.  Such prayer focuses our attention on our spiritual lives and the process of our becoming more fully ourselves through the Spirit.  This kind of prayer sharpens our expectancy for God’s involvement in our lives.

Faith Approach. We can accept that we are dealing with mystery. By nature, we are controllers. We want to control everything. We want to know everything before we act. We need a willingness to embrace mystery. When we invite God more deeply into our spiritual life, we invite mystery into our life. More importantly, we invite romance and creativity into our life. Let us act as if we believe, and we will grow in our belief.

Body-Person Approach. However, if we are going to integrate God more deeply into our spiritual lives, we must integrate God into that part of our lives where we spend the most time–in our bodies, in our life of the senses, in our sexuality. If we integrate God into the so-called spiritual part of our lives, we segregate God to a very small portion of our lives. So, to achieve greater integration, we are not necessarily being called to add more spiritual practices, but to seek the Spirit in our everyday lived experiences.

We are incarnational beings, body persons. And God respects our nature. Our bodiliness becomes the medium through which the Spirit empowers and enlightens us. The Spirit assaults our senses and our feelings through nature, music, art, dance, the true, the beautiful, the oneness of intimacy and the joy of community to awaken our heart wishes for personal and spiritual growth.

Further, our bodies offer a natural spiritual rhythm. For a moment think of a beautiful sunset, a great aria, exciting food. When we consciously become more deeply aware in our listening, in our seeing, in our touching, in our smelling, in our tasting, we enter the present moment. We experience time stopping, we experience a space in our consciousness for encounter. At this point we can idolize the object of our attention. Or we can transcend it and be moved to wonder at the experienced gift, to thanksgiving for the gift, and finally to the presence of the Gift-giver. Catch the rhythm!

If we act as if our senses are gifts of God rather than presuming they are standard operating equipment, we will have begun the movement from attentive awareness to the present moment, to wonder, to gratitude, to the Spirit’s presence. We can further reinforce our intention to live our lives spiritually by committing ourselves with some ejaculation such as: “I vow to look upon all beings with the eyes of compassion.”  In other words, we vow to be fully present in a caring and attentive way toward our own lived experiences—the same vow that Christ asks us to make toward others.

Living with our senses compassionately toward our lived experience enables us to live a life of gratefulness to God. Gratefulness is at the heart of our relationship with God, and therefore at the heart of our spiritual lives. For we possess nothing, not even ourselves. We come before God as people who have been gifted by Him. There is a gift dimension to our lives that surpasses our comprehension. Our senses bring us glimpses.

Wonder of wonders, the spiritual life becomes a life of compassion, awareness, presence, wonder, gratefulness and spiritual union. The self-help books tout their prescriptions for living such a fully human life. But only Christ lived that life. Best of all, He has given us his Spirit to help us attain it.