Memorializing from the Memorials we Create
Today is Memorial Day. It is the day we set aside traditionally to remember those who died while serving in the armed forces of our country. Memorial Day observance has diminished over the years in its true meaning or being also known as Decoration Day. The graves of the fallen used to be “decorated” with flags and other memorabilia. There would be proper flag etiquette and ways to observe the “memorials” with parades and proper respect. Most Americans have forgotten or dispensed with these customs over the past few decades. Time often changes how we hand down our teachings or reinforce way of life.
It is the same with many other habits and practices we once held dear or were customs of our beliefs. While I am not writing about Memorial Day per se or whether we “should” hold true to traditions, I do want to write about PRACTICES as they pertain to the spiritual life. Spiritual practices, like everything else, are changing all the time. The way we think about spiritual matters and how we observe them is really changing. For example, 50 years ago, it would be hard to find stores open on Sunday or especially during typical church service times. Soon, people will not even remember that was the case as older generations die and the young ones are used to having things remain open on Sunday.
Again, I am not saying that we should go back to an “old way” or practice because it was better than now, nor am I saying we should dispense with a practice because it has a horrible association with it from the past. I am interested in staying PRESENT with the practices we do adopt and remembering why they are important to us. A Spiritual Practice is a very important thing to create in any life. It helps center and ground us to stay calm in the midst of changing times. It helps us associate with what is important within us: our associations, memories, what we do commemorate and why. Spiritual Practice needs to be about power within first. There are levels of power and if we base our practices on the external realm or memorialize simply from habit, there may be discipline, but it could lack relationship connections.
Our memories are rich because they are formed through associations. When we experience important things, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and impressions of those times together. That is what we will memorialize or speak about in our practices. For example, if you were raised in a spiritual tradition that felt good to you or you enjoyed, you will most likely keep the same tradition without considering or asking if that is still meaningful to you in the present. Reinforcement and habit of how we worship or think about things sacred to us comes in the form of repetition and familiarity. Spiritual practices that are really deep and continually growing are not to be stunted by just doing what you have always done or by keeping them alive just because it is a tradition of the humans that raised you.
Spiritual practices that are rich and growing are those you pay attention to because they speak to you or strike inner chords with your core. In other words, the spirit of you WILL resonate with your inner highest vibrational frequency, which is passion and love. YOU will love the practices you do in all areas of your Spiritual routines, but you will also feel the need to grow the personal relationship between you and God. You will want to know the Author of your traditions and you will want to know WHO you are “doing things in remembrance of.” Jesus said that we would take communion in Remembrance of Him. What does that mean? It means whether you are taking a literal communion in church or whether you are developing a closeness of unity and oneness in that God-man relationship, you will remember that it is all about LOVE. That is the message of Christ—there is an inner voice that will speak and call from love and spiritual union that will resonate with all those who seek to hear it. We have that “gel” in our core and when it begins to come alive, the practice of closeness is felt so strongly that more is desired vs. memorializing a tradition of your past or that of your relatives.
On this day and everyday, Spiritual Practice needs to be meaningful in the present and grow from that inner core of relationship intimacy Holy Spirit to your spirit!