Unlike many other people’s experiences, the first time I felt a distinct spiritual connection to something bigger than myself, I wasn’t in a quiet moment of meditation and contemplation. I wasn’t in a place or state of mind for worship, nor was I having a life-threatening emergency or a near-death experience. To be honest, I wasn’t even searching for a spiritual experience.
I was at a crowded beach, making sand castles.
It was a pretty usual occurrence for me to go to the beach with my family, growing up in Southern California. During these day trips, I spent most of my time in the water, playing and swimming in the waves. But on this particular trip, I opted for time on the shore, positioning myself right where the tide offered me a challenge: to create a sand castle before the incoming tide could destroy them. I made a game of it for hours, and some time amidst the laughter and amusement, I became aware of more than just the game. I became aware of how connected everything was in the little world of my game: the damp sand I manipulated… the sand crabs that lived in one scoop of that sand… the water that sustained those crabs and came, unbidden and regularly, to give them life—then retreated to a larger body of water… all of it was so intertwined. I realized it all for the first time and within moments I went from observing that connection to feeling I was a part of it. It was amazing. I felt warm and happy, and not remotely alone, even in the midst of my solitary game. It was a very important moment that made me aware of a spiritual aspect of life I hadn’t known before.
Part of being spiritual or living a spiritual life is feeling connected to something bigger than yourself, whether it’s to nature, a cause, a purpose or a deity. When we feel that interconnectedness, it gives our lives context and perspective, and it helps us feel like we’re a part of something. It’s the same kind of feeling you can get from connecting with others—that soulful, enriching experience that helps us feel less alone, and often adds purpose and meaning on a spiritual level.
This week, I invite you to make time to connect to something bigger than yourself. Try going for a walk in nature, having a quiet moment of reflection or meditation, participating in an activity to raise money or awareness for a cause, or to a religious service. Experience those warm feelings of connectedness that come from you spiritually enriching your life.