One of the first things we learn when we study a language is its alphabet. But have we ever learned the ABC’s relating to the formation, development and growth of our spiritual life, our spirituality? Some time ago I came across an Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy with tips on how basic practices can spell meaning in one’s daily life. It pointed out several areas in my life that needed improvement and inspired me to a deeper intimacy with myself, my neighbor, and God. I’d like to share this alphabet with you (the italics are mine).
A – Attention
Pay attention. Stay awake and totally alert. See with receptive eyes and discover a world of ceaseless wonders.
B – Beauty
Walk the path of beauty. Relish and encourage its inward and outward expressions. Acknowledge the radiance of God’s creation.
C – Compassion
Open your heart, mind, and soul to the pain and suffering in the world. Reach out to others and discover the rewards and obligations of deep feeling.
C – Connections
Cultivate the art of making connections. See how your life is intimately related to all life on the planet. Including the environment.
D – Devotion
Express your feelings of praise and adoration through devotional practices. Pray with words and pray through your actions.
E – Enthusiasm
Celebrate life with this intoxicating passion. It adds zest to everything and helps build community. Hold nothing back. How does my enthusiasm (or lack of it) affect the BCBP community?
F – Faith
Recognize and accept that there is another dimension to life than what is obvious to us. Live with obstacles, doubt, and paradox, knowing that God is always present in the world.
F – Forgiveness
In both your private and public lives, discover the sweet release that comes from forgiving others. Feel the healing balm of being forgiven and of forgiving yourself.
G – Grace
Accept grace and your world will be larger, deeper, richer, and fuller. Look for its intimations everywhere. Let this seed of the Giver of Life bloom in your words and deeds.
H – Hope
Let this positive and potent emotion fuel your dreams and support your service of others. Through your attitudes and actions, encourage others never to lose hope.
H – Hospitality
Practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the “other” is shunned. Welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
I – Imagination
Give imagination free rein in your life. Explore its images and ponder its meaning-making moments, and it will always present you with something new to be seen, felt, or made known.
J – Joy
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Find this divine energy in your daily life and share it with others. Philippians 4:4-8.
J – Justice
Seek liberty and justice for all. Work for a free and fair world where oppression and inequality no longer exist.
K – Kindness
Let Spirit flow through you in little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy. These deeds will add to the planet’s fund of good will.
L – Listening
Cultivate the art of deep listening in which you lean toward the world in love. All things in the universe want to be heard, as do the many voices inside us. This is also known as empathic listening, a skill learned in the BCBP’s Steward Leaders Training.
L – Love
Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, and yourself. And don’t stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones, even the galaxies. God does! He created everything and saw that it was good.
N – Nurturing
Take good care of the best that is within you. Self-exploration and personal growth continue throughout our lifetime and equip us to tend to the needs of others.
O – Openness
Hold an open house in your heart for all people and all things. Practice empathy with others and receptiveness toward God.
P – Peace
Protect the earth’s future by promoting peace very day. Your small steps will link you with others who are combating violence in the world.
P – Play
Be playful. Express your creative spirit in spontaneity. Hurrah the pleasures of being, and let loose your laughter.
Q – Questing
Savor questions and thrill to the quest. See your life as a journey that quickens your faith and deepens your soul.
R – Reverence
Practice reverence for life. The sacred is in, with, and under all the things of the world. Respond with appropriate respect and awe.
S – Shadow
Give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from your imperfections. Listen to what your demons have to say to you.
T – Teachers
Be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around you, however unlikely or unlike you they may be. Always be a sensitive student.
T – Transformation
Welcome the positive changes that are taking place in your life. Open up the windows and let in some fresh air. Wholeness and healing are waiting in the wings.
U – Unity
Respect differences but affirm commonalities. Work together with those who are trying to make the world a better place.
V – Vision
Practice the art of seeing the invisible. Use the wisdom of your personal vision to renew yourself and your community. Be guided by the wisdom of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
W – Wonder
Cultivate a vibrant curiosity and welcome the reports of your senses. The world is alive and moving toward you with rare epiphanies and wonderful surprises. Remember you are standing on holy ground.
X – The Mystery
Accept the unknown as part of life. Don’t try to unravel the profound mysteries of God, human nature, and the natural world. Love the ineffable. Remember that we are servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Cor. 4:1.
Y – Yearning
Follow your heart’s boundless desire. It takes you out of yourself and fosters an appreciation for the multidimensional pleasures of life.
Y – You
Accept that you are a child of God. Sing your own song with gusto. Fulfill your mission as a copartner with the Holy One in the unfolding drama of the universe.
Z – Zeal
Be passionately aroused by life. Cherish every moment, honor your commitments, and treasure your kinship with all. Especially with the BCBP community!
Source: Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life, by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. (Scribner, NY. C1996)