By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist-
In late December, just before Christmas, Hanukkah, and the winter solstice, a marvelous wind storm with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour came through my area. The wind sang a steady song with a strong voice and soothing tone. Tree branches rhythmically swayed as they reached into the sky. The few dried leaves still on the branches were swiftly pulled off and tossed into the air like miniature flying carpets to magical destinations unknown. The rising sun against the dim blue sky with gentle, abstract cloud patterns provided an extraordinary backdrop.
Nature has an ease with how it combines majesty, beauty and purity. It has a raw, powerful truth. Nature’s spirit is manifested in its integration of colors, storms, stillness, rainbows, and change of seasons among many other things. Watching, learning, and listening to nature offers ancient lessons for each individual’s personal sojourn.
In “Sex and the Sacred – Gay Identity and Spiritual Growth,” Daniel A. Helminiak stresses personal integration in order to be a whole or complete person. Integration includes mature sexual ethics; keeping a healthy mind and body; learning from life experiences, good, bad, or confusing; bringing together the beauty, spirituality, and transcendence of physical intimacy; appreciating the humanness of another even if the individual is difficult to like; and trying to respond to someone with kindness and patience instead of anger.
“Spirituality,” wrote Dr. Helminiak, theologian, psychotherapist, and former Catholic priest, “is an inherently human matter. It is a facet of every human being, every human institution, and every human society. The roots of spirituality are in the human heart; it is only the branches that reach up into the heavens.”
An absence of personal integration can lead to a self-destructive spiritual and emotional compartmentalization. Balance also is critical to making the individual whole. Balance doesn’t mean mixing the components of one’s life in equal amounts, but in the right amounts.
Personhood is similar to nature. Rain every day or a long drought isn’t good. Some rain, but not enough also can be detrimental. Everything must come together in the right amounts for crops to grow, flowers to bloom, and trees to be clothed in splendid greenery.
In January, despite the cold and seasonal snow storms, the days are getting longer. The sun incrementally pushes back the darkness. Though there are no signs of spring sprouting from the ground, the renewal has begun.
During the next storm, settle down with a cup of hot cocoa with your furry children nearby and reflect on what makes you special. Have you integrated all the many mystical, splendid things that are you? Think about what it means to be complete. Or what will it take to be whole? This is not an exercise in planning to make more money, getting on the A-list, or getting on a high-profile board. Instead, it’s like the perfect spring day when everything comes together – bright blue sky, crocus pushing up, and the crisp, fresh air announcing rebirth.
Sometimes personal challenges, whether a stressful job, health concerns, or troubled relationships, cause spiritual energy or inner light to be dispersed and diluted. Even in the best of circumstances it’s possible to allow one thing – like a job title – to define our personhood. By resisting a focus on the singular and nurturing the whole, the person becomes more grounded. Do a spiritual inventory. Organize it. Nurture it. Stock your soul with what’s needed. Then get ready to grow and bloom.
* Paul is an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, N.Y. Email questions to Dilovod@aol.com.