I was recently given a precious, priceless gift: my maternal grandmother’s hand-written journals. My Gran spent the last 20+ years before she passed chronicling stories about my aunts, uncles and cousins, but also writing about her own life and the changes she witnessed as a child of the early 1900’s. Each year is a thick, red leather bound treasure trove of daily wisdom, life experiences and stories full of human emotions. There are bookmarks, stickers and drawings, doodles and various quotes that make the pages even richer. She was also a talented writer with beautiful script handwriting and a knack for story-telling that made a person feel as if they were there in the moment.
Gran was the matriarch of our family, the “glue” that held us all together. She was often described as a “saint” or an “angel” both in and outside of the family, because of her selfless, giving nature and her willingness to help anyone at any time. She grew up on a large farm and during the Great Depression, they always had enough to eat, so the bounty was shared with neighbors and strangers who had little or nothing. As an adult, she worked full time up until the last couple of years before she passed, helping to find housing for low income, mentally challenged and homeless people in need. She was a pillar in the church, and later, when walking became difficult, would be found quietly reading scripture and writing countless letters to cheer those who desperately needed some positivity in their lives.
In reading through her journals, I’ve realized that this was a woman who truly lived a spiritual life; her actions reinforced the love she had for God, His son and the Bible, and she let herself be a vessel for that love. It’s not that I didn’t already know she was spiritual, but because she and I were so close, I wasn’t able to view her spiritual devotion objectively before. To me, she was always just kind, compassionate, soft-spoken “Gran” – that’s who she was to all of us kids in the family.
The most important lesson that I am learning as I explore the gift of her journals is that “Spirit” is more than an abstract concept: it is a living thing. It needs to be fed and nourished, exercised and celebrated. It’s more than conscience, personality, a soul, a way of being, and at the same time it’s an amalgamation of all of these and many other things. What we feed it matters. How we nurture it matters. Our actions in the world are how Spirit manifests itself, exercises and grows in scope. We can be living examples of what we want to see exist in this world by letting Spirit guide us.
One of the best things about Spirit, is that you don’t necessarily have to be religious in order to help it grow. It can be the Holy Ghost, the Divine Spark of the Universe, Moral Conscience, Core Essence, whatever label you want to give it. That voice inside that urges you to help others, that’s Spirit. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it shouts. The desire to perform random acts of kindness anonymously, that’s Spirit. It moves us, encourages us to become better human beings. The key to acting in Spirit, is not doing things as virtue-signaling or because you’ll get anything for doing it… if those are your motivations then that’s Ego talking. Ego and Spirit have very different goals and ends by nature. Spirit doesn’t mind being anonymous, because the goal is the goodness of the act itself and what it accomplishes, not recognition.
My grandmother used to say, “Make where you are better because you are there.” I plan to improve my attempts to recognize when Spirit is trying to get my attention and do better about maximizing its potential out in the world through my actions. What about you? How will your Spirit make a difference out there? 😊
© 2018, Corina Ravenscraft