When thinking about the questions, “What are we really doing here?” and “What is the purpose of life?” I always come up with the same answer. We are preparing our inner manger – a place within ourselves in which the divine can dwell and nourish us. The biblical story of the baby, Jesus, being placed in a manger symbolizes this. While the structure of a manger is intended to hold food to feed animals, this humble place is sanctified by the reception of the baby, Jesus, as a source of nourishment for our souls. But, in order to receive this great gift of light, love, and wisdom, there is a precondition required. While the gifts of the divine are ever-present and overflowing, we must open ourselves to receive them or face spiritual starvation.
There is an image of Jesus as a grown man knocking on a door in a garden. There is no handle on his side of the door because it is up to us to open that door to receive the divine consciousness. But, how do we do that? First, by becoming aware of the spiritual dimension of our lives. Whether it is Jesus knocking, or Buddha, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism or some other language of spirit, invitations to spiritual inquiry and nourishment abound in our lives. Many find spiritual inspiration from nature, or babies, or rituals, meditation, deep friendships, or simply entering into the solitude of self. Opportunities abound!
However, it is easy to live a life of spiritual starvation, never knowing what you are missing. The pull of the outer world of phenomena, seeking to do, be, or have something that you believe will complete you, will, in time, leave you hungry. Many spend their lives endlessly seeking for fulfillment through romantic relationships, professional success, approval seeking from others, stimulating experiences, and material abundance only to find an inner hunger that none of these can satisfy.
I am reminded of Shel Silverstein’s book The Missing Piece. How many of us spend our lifetime seeking to fill an insatiable inner void? The manna of this world never sates our spiritual hunger.
If you feel that inner hunger, reach into it. Don’t run away from it in search of the temporary fixes of the material world which only bring fleeting satisfaction to our egos. Spiritual hunger is much deeper than that. It is a knowing that something immaterial, pure, everlasting, and good is ever-present and non-inflictive within us and all around us – patiently awaiting our choice to activate our engagement with it. Once we become aware of the spiritual dimension, we spend the rest of our lives preparing our inner manger. No matter how humble a life we might seemingly lead, we are all spiritual royalty once we awaken to the presence of the divine in our lives.
Preparing our inner manger involves two types of activity. First, we extend the invitation, open the door, and welcome the spiritual dimension into our lives. We spend time getting acquainted with this part of ourselves and our life’s journey. We make time to turn inward and upward within ourselves. We learn to choose the high road when given a choice. We seek and gain a perspective of altitude that allows us to perceive what is going on within our lives as an observer as well as a participant. We become more sensitive and caring about the impact of our words and actions on others as well as on ourselves. We become more consciously aware, paying attention to the experiences we have and the wisdom teachings they present to us. Secondly, we enter into a state of willingness to let go of those things that block our relationship with spirit – things like addictions, compulsions, fears, and patterns of anger, judgment, and separation. In time, we come to know ourselves as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin describes – not as human beings having a spiritual experience, but as spiritual beings having a human experience.
Preparing your inner manger is the most important work you can do. It’s a 24/7 job that pays us in the currency of inner peace. Happy holidays, everyone.
To read more blogs by Judith Johnson or to learn more about her work, please go to www.judithjohnson.com .