24″ x 20″, oil on canvas, 2020. A painting of my house from above, with a lot of lines.
I heard from a teacher recently that spiritual practice need only be a few simple tasks done in the daily rhythms of everyday life. Specifically, I recall four things, which if each done for a minimum of 10 minutes each day, “will be life-changing”.
Chant: listening to, or singing. There are many forms of chant – Gregorian, Taize, Zen, Tibetan, Mantra, etc.
Meditation: Breathing. sitting in silence, allowing thoughts to come and go, Centering Prayer.
Simple work: sweeping, folding laundry, cooking good food for others, doing dishes, etc.
Simple activity: going for a walk, riding a bike, knitting, journaling, drawing.
None of these should be done from a sense of self-improvement or productivity. They are meant to relax you, to humble you (relief from the pressure of status and ego), and to allow yourself to just be present. It’s a minimal sum of 40 minutes a day to be restored, refreshed, and OK with today. In our culture, I would call that life-changing.
Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, but treasures in heaven.”
He didn’t say store treasures ON heaven. These treasures aren’t transactional, as if heaven is another ghostly storehouse to put things in – like a Scrooge McDuck Money Bin of Good Deeds. Heaven need not be future-tense. Treasure in heaven is to live life now! Practice joy, be with people in loving relationship, help others and be of service. This can all be done with only minor shifts in perspective and tiny time commitments. We all have to do jobs and care for families and run around being busy, but that does not have to be the entire sum of life. Small, integrated spiritual practices will change you, if done over time, and with it the dangerous possibility that you will awaken.