Another Path

The following “comment” from Connie Howard is too good to leave languishing in the comment section.

Connie responds to Rediscovered Gospel

This is for readers out there potentially discouraged about their inability to spiritual discipline, their inadequate interest in things spiritual, and in many cases, their powerfully negative emotional reactions to language of the church or of self-sacrifice.

Steve talks about spiritual disciplines that have been instrumental in his life, and says they are a good way of keeping desire alive and opening the door to rediscovery and new understanding of the gospel. I’d like to propose yet another path by which we can rediscover the gospel.

I spent so many years, too many, berating myself for my inadequate practice of spiritual disciplines, until I learned from Kathleen Norris that in fact all our actions have holiness potential, and that the quotidian hum of domestic and family life are in fact spiritual acts if we see them as such. And more recently, from Ronald Rolheiser and from my own experience, I’ve discovered that going to work, or reading the newspaper or reading the writings of theologians as they try to put words to the mysteries of God, or reading novelists and poets who try put words to the mysteries of human experience, or listening to a child, or sharing a glass of wine and conversation and laughter with friends, are spiritual acts also. Not spiritual disciplines technically, but serving the same purpose.

The gospel is about Incarnation, so to take the time to pay attention to the heart-break and joy of the world around me as told in the face of a child or a friend or a spouse or a parent, or in the news, or in a novel is very spiritual, and becomes an avenue for rediscovering the gospel, for allowing it, the message of grace and incarnation, as Steve says, to read me.


  1. Thanks Connie for reminding me of the quotidian mysteries. Could it be that the quotidian is the spiritual walk but sometimes becomes the grind when our perspective is lost? There is something that happens for me when I am ‘present’ to the day or the moment in such a way that I receive it as not only a gift but a spiritual discipline that is different than when I don’t. This morning I walked to work through an inner city portion. As I looked down the grass was already growing long and green through the cracks between the sidewalk and a cement wall. Starbucks cups, empty cigarette packages, various wrappings and a very rusted out tin can caught my attention. As I walked, observed, breathed in the air, I was transported back to a time in my childhood when looking through long grass and finding these ‘treasures’ was exciting and intriguing, sparking my imagination as to their owners and sources. Somehow I felt ‘connected’ to the earth, the world, something outside of me, my neighbors in a way that I haven’t felt for awhile. I long for this sense of being ‘present’ to happen more often as too many times my mind is racing about my job, family, etc. and missing the world around me.

  2. I think this is big and true, that the spiritual really truly is, as you put it, in connection with and being present to the world and people around us. I think God lives in the spaces between us and around us, and I think our experience of feeling spiritually dead so often stems from our lack of connection with the earth and its inhabitants. We live in bubbles of metal and wood and concrete, we sit inside our cars and curse young aggressive drivers we’ve never met, our primary links in many of our days are electronic, and we go home at night not to sit out on our front patio and be part of a community, but to our backyard or indoor living, apart from our neighbours.

    We went to the pub last night, to chat long and deep about these and other things with a friend over a pint, and it was a spiritual experience, though most would argue.

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