Skip to content

Spiritual Maintenance…

April 21, 2015


Today as I was driving to our local automobile dealership for what I was praying would be a simple oil change and tire rotation (it was, thankfully!) I began pondering the similarities and differences between Automobile maintenance and Spiritual maintenance. My car has multiple computer systems in it that keep track of various systems. I also get a monthly email from OnStar with the monthly vehicle diagnostics overview. Oh and if I want to know what my tire pressure or remaining oil life or a myriad of other reports are at a moment’s notice, all I have to do is press a button on my iPhone and I will have instantaneous results!

It is amazing how much time, energy, and research went into developing this sort of technology. We can assess automobile health, cell phone data activity, computer efficiency, and so many other things at the snap of a finger. With all of that in mind, I began to think about our spiritual health and maintenance. The last time I checked, there isn’t an “app” for the iPhone that you can purchase or install. Shouldn’t it be as important for us as Christ followers to know how we are doing spiritually and what sort of maintenance we might need?

I was in a conversation once with someone who was asking about the life of a military chaplain. When we got around to discussing spiritual renewal and spiritual maintenance, I didn’t paint a very pretty picture. Frankly, we didn’t do a very good job of that as Chaplains. Now the Roman Catholic priests had a mechanism in place for yearly spiritual refreshment and renewal through sponsored retreats. It was also built into their daily lives. As a whole though, my Protestant sisters and brothers didn’t do as good of a job with this and the Chaplain Corps leadership wasn’t able to offer something that would refresh and renew the wide swath of denominations represented by the term Protestant Chaplain. Personally, this Chaplain didn’t do a very good job of taking care of himself in order to be at peak effectiveness as a Chaplain. It wasn’t until I felt the exhaustion setting in and my battery running low that I would take the time necessary to do some “spiritual maintenance” for myself. Instead, I ran from one meeting to another and jumped from one crisis to another in my professional ministry. There was always so much to do and, sadly, personal time for reflection and growth took second (or third or fourth… you get the picture) place.

Between the Christian Spiritual Formation program that Denise and I are a part of and our own daily routine of prayer, I am changing what had been a bad habit for years. Our routine consists of Morning Prayer, Devotional readings, and praying for those on our prayer list in addition to specific members of the congregation, and night prayer before going to sleep. I have found that this practice or spiritual discipline is exactly what I need to recharge, refresh, and at times to simply be still and know God.

Another spiritual discipline that I enjoy is Visio Divina. The practice of Lectio Divina, known as Divine Reading, is a long established practice. While I do practice that discipline, my heart has always been drawn to Visio Divina or Divine Seeing. From a relatively early age, I enjoyed taking pictures. When I graduated from Seminary, I pooled my graduation gifts and bought my first 35-mm camera. Ever since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures.

The practice of looking at life through a camera lens and then reflecting on the images (Visio Divina) is a relatively new process for me. For years my pictures stayed in a photo album (remember the days of getting film developed and praying that the pictures you took would turn out?) and I would browse through the albums from time to time. With the advent of digital photography, the pictures (lots more of them since I didn’t have to pay for film or processing!) would end up on a CD-rom or on the hard drive of my computer. However, when I began exploring Visio, I began to realize that these pictures were more than just snapshots of past events. Thanks as well to an introduction to Thomas Merton and his love of photography as a lens through which to pray, this process has continued to grow. The picture at the top of this blog (a tree in Ireland just across the road from the B&B we stayed at) is an example of Visio. I can meditate on this photo for hours and each time I do focus on it, God seems to be present and speaking in a different way each time.

So, dear reader, it is imperative that we take our spiritual maintenance seriously. This padre knows from personal experience that to ignore the spiritual needs is to ask for trouble. Why shouldn’t we take our spiritual maintenance as seriously as we do the maintenance on our car? Whether it is reading, prayer, quiet, music, photography, or any other discipline; take the time to simply be still in the presence of God. Your spirit needs it!

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: