Spirituality has so many different definitions these days, but the way I have experienced it in the most tangible way in my own life is through relationship - a feeling of being at one or in harmony with the universe (God) and with each other.
I’ve seen this idea a lot lately in my work as a photographer. I’ve been working on a series of leaf studies where I take black and white pictures of leaves with rain droplets on them. When I first started taking them I really focused on one leaf and it’s drops. But the ones I’ve been taking lately I’ve really pushed to find subjects that are in relationship with something around them - another leaf, a branch, a different texture, etc. It’s been interesting to see that these “relationship” photos are more sophisticated, more artful, more deep, more nuanced, more elegant, really just all around better and more beautiful than my single leaf ones. But what’s funny is when I look back at the singular photos that I thought were the most successful, it’s because they actually did have an element or two in the photo that relate to the leaf. So we can’t get away from relationships! I love that nature has been teaching me more about these connections.
This studying has made me realize more and more that our daily relationships can perhaps point the pathway to that larger sense of oneness. We’re pretty good on our own, but how much better can we be in tandem with others around us? I think of our relationships as one way we can reflect the good of the universe outwardly. And it’s also one of the toughest things to do at points. But when we can find that sense of harmony, I think it acts sort of like a laser beam with lots of little streams coming into focus with one big light.
I’ve also found this idea of relationship to be key to healing. That sense of being at one with God and each other (when I feel the greatest spirituality) has often been present when I’ve had physical healings at different times in my life. One happened when my daughter Hazel was 3 or 4. We were at the playground one day and I did something to one of my big toes. I don’t remember what happened to it, and I don’t think I knew at the time either, but I was running after Hazel and suddenly I couldn’t walk. After several days of being really inconvenienced with it hurting and me not being able to chase after an active toddler or even walk on it, I remember one specific prayer I prayed one night. My prayer didn’t even have anything to do with my toe because I had seen so many times in my life that healing is really connected to thought. I prayed, “God, I know you are Mind, and I know you reflect your Mind in me, so if I’m thinking in a way that doesn’t reflect your thought, then I don’t want to think that way anymore. And if I am thinking in a way that isn’t like your thought, I know you are All-power, and you can and will cast that out.”
It was interesting that right after that, something came to mind about a relationship I had at that time that wasn’t great. There was a woman who was a “friend” at my church that had a child the same age as Hazel, and we found ourselves in the same social circles a lot. But every time we were out together I really didn’t enjoy her company. I didn’t think we had anything in common, and her demeanor and even her mannerisms were annoying to me. I had basically decided that the best thing for me to do in order to keep from saying or doing something rude was to try to avoid being out together at all. When this came to thought, though, I decided to pray again. This time my prayer was, “God, enable me to see what you see in this woman. I know because you made her that there’s got to be something really good there, and I know you will help me to see it.” This was on a Thursday or Friday.
That Sunday this “friend” and our kids found ourselves together again for lunch, but this time I remembered my prayer about her, and I prayed that same way again before we sat down. Lunch was a completely different experience. We talked in a way that was much deeper and more connected than ever before, and we found out we actually had a lot in common. She seemed more real and I noticed all kinds of good qualities about her that I hadn’t seen before. We ended the lunch as friends, and we’re still friends today. I don’t have any of those original bad feelings left. And the next day I realized that my toe was completely healed. There wasn’t any more pain and I could move it freely where I hadn’t been able to move it at all before. I felt so connected to God because of this, and not just because of the physical healing, but because I had felt a deep oneness with God’s thought, His/Her Love for all of us, and a beautiful oneness with my friend. It showed me that when we’re connected in and by that sense of oneness, that there isn’t anything, even a toe, that can be disconnected. That feeling of being in tune with that harmony and feeling close to God is what I would describe as spirituality.
This is why the relationships focus at Kinship Farm is to me so important. For me it’s less about the work that we are doing (still important) and more about the sense of oneness we’re building and revealing throughout our surrounding community. This IS the work.