/ 17. October 2010 11:00
Throughout my life, the development of my spirituality and my experiences with prayer have always been relatively structured. Being raised in a catholic family and attending a catholic elementary school followed by a catholic high school, my relationship with God and prayer was a simple one, one that followed the format I had learned in years of religion classes. When I learned I would be doing a year of service in San Diego, and was expected to incorporate my spirituality and prayer with my community, I was a little worried. I wondered if what I knew about spirituality and prayer would be enough to help my community grow. Well, after being here for just a month and a half I can say that the people I have been surrounded by have helped me grow far more than I expected, and my spirituality has grown in ways I never could have imagined.
I have found that prayer and the opportunity for spiritual growth are essentially all around me, and the challenge has been to recognize the instances that are so far removed from what I have known as prayer, yet still have the potential for spiritual growth. I am discovering that when Jesus told us in the Gospel to “Pray always,” that he certainly did not mean to spend your days kneeling at a bedside in silence. I believe he meant we are to find ways to communicate with God and come to know God in everything we do. In trying to do that, my spirituality has grown exponentially.
In just the past six weeks I have discovered that silently reciting things I learned in grade school and high school is just one of thousands of different ways to pray. Prayer is also a long walk through the beautiful Balboa Park here in San Diego. It is a peaceful and serene moment at the beach in Coronado. It is a sincere conversation with my roommates about what we truly believe. It is guiding first graders through a decade of the rosary at the end of the day at Holy Family School, where I teach Physical Education. All of these things have helped my relationship with God grow, and have opened up communication with God. Conversely, none of these activities area things I would have called prayer prior to this year.
Because all of my roommates and I have different spiritual backgrounds, I can’t help but be exposed to new ways of communicating with God. Praying as a community has been one of the best parts of the routine we’ve settled into here. Prayer one night might involve watching a movie clip from the always inspirationalFerris Bueller’s Day Off, while another night prayer might be reading from the Bible. During our AV Orientation we learned that through different experiences and discomfort from those experiences we are forced to grow. So far, some of my experiences with prayer and spirituality have indeed been uncomfortable, and almost all have been different, but the growth in my spirituality that has resulted is undeniable. From here, the challenge is to continue to seek opportunities for spiritual growth, and remember that they are indeed all around me. To fall back into a rigid and stagnant relationship with God would mean a failure to truly change, and all of us AV’s here have learned that without change, without risk, without discomfort, there can be no personal growth.
San Diego, CA 2010-2011