By Alex P. Vidal
LOS ANGELES, California – In the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, a book that belongs in every seeker’s home and answers the universal question “How can I live a spiritual life every day?” authors Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat reveal “a way to read the texts of our lives and of the world around us for sacred meaning.”
Using more than 650 brief examples from contemporary books and movies, they tutor us in the art of lingering with our experiences and seeing the world with fresh eyes. They present spiritual perspectives on things, places, nature, animals, leisure, creativity, service, body, relationships, and community.
The Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy describes the key spiritual practices—from attention to zeal—the spell meaning in daily life. The authors offer the book “to share with children, family, colleagues, and friends as you explore together the bounties of the spiritual life.”
The basics explain that most of us started reading lessons by learning the alphabet. “We have borrowed that bit of pedagogy and created an Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, a collage of wisdom from the world’s religions and from spiritual teachers of all eras,” the authors explain. “Spread throughout the book, these letters elaborate on the practices of spirituality which show up repeatedly in the chapters of readings.”
Following is a summary of the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, with pointers on how the practices can spell meaning in our daily life. If ever we are tempted to ask why a particular passage in the book is spiritual, let’s check the alphabet, and we will find that it demonstrates one of these practices.
Attention: Let’s pay attention. Let’s stay awake and totally alert. Let’s see with receptive eyes and discover a world of ceaseless wonders. Beauty: Let’s walk the path of beauty. Let’s relish and encourage its inward and outward expressions. Let’s acknowledge the radiance of the creation. Being Present: Let’s live in the present moment and don’t obsess about the past or worry about the future. All we need is right here now.
Compassion: Let’s open our heart, mind, and soul to the pain and suffering in the world. Let’s reach out to others and discover the rewards and obligations of deep feeling. Connections: Let’s cultivate the art of making connections and see how our life is intimately related to all life on the planet. Devotion: Let’s express our feelings of praise and adoration through devotional practices and pray with words and pray through our actions.
Enthusiasm: Let’s celebrate life with this intoxicating passion. It adds zest to everything and helps build community. Let’s hold nothing back. Faith: Let’s recognize and accept that there is another dimension to life than what is obvious to us. Let’s live with obstacles, doubt, and paradox, knowing that God is always present in the world.
Forgiveness: In both our private and public lives, let’s discover the sweet release that comes from forgiving others and feel the healing balm of being forgiven and of forgiving ourselves. Grace: Let’s accept grace and our world will be larger, deeper, richer, and fuller. Let’s look for its intimations everywhere. Let this seed of the Giver of Life bloom in our words and deeds. Gratitude: Let’s spell out our days with a grammar of gratitude and be thankful for all the blessings in our life.
Hope: Let us let this positive and potent emotion fuel our dreams and support our service of others. Through our attitudes and actions, let’s encourage others never to lose hope. Hospitality: Let’s practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the “other” is shunned. Let’s welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
Imagination: Let’s give imagination free rein in our life and explore its image and ponders its meaning-making moments, and it will always present you with something new to be seen, felt, or made known. Joy: Let’s rejoice and be exceedingly glad and find this divine energy in our daily life and share it with others. Justice: Let’s seek liberty and justice for all and work for a free and fair world where oppression and inequality no longer exist.
Kindness: Let’s let Spirit flow through us in little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy. These deeds will add to the planet’s fund of good will. Listening: Let’s cultivate the art of deep listening in which we lean toward the world in love. All things in the universe want to be heard, as do the many voices inside us.
Love: Let’s fall in love over and over again every day. Let’s love our family, our neighbors, our enemies, and ourselves. Let’s not stop with humans. Let’s love animals, plants, stones, even the galaxies. Meaning: Let’s constantly try to discover the significance of our experiences and seek further understandings from sacred texts and spiritual teachers.
Nurturing: Let’s take good care of the best that is within us. Self-exploration and personal growth continue throughout our lifetimes and equip us to tend to the needs of others. Openness: Let’s hold an open house in our hearts for all people and all things and practice empathy with others and receptiveness toward the universe. Peace: Let’s protect the earth’s future by promoting peace every day. Our small steps will link us with others who are combating violence in the world.
Play: Let’s be playful, expressive our creative spirit in spontaneity, and hurrah the pleasures of being, and let loose our laughter. Questing: Let’s savor questions and thrill to the quest and see our life as a journey that quickens our faith and deepens our soul. Reverence: Let’s practice reverence for life. The sacred is in, with, and under all the things of the world. Let’s respond with appropriate respect and awe. Shadow: Let’s give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from our imperfections and listen to what our demons have to say to us.
Silence: Let’s slow down and find a place where we can regularly practice silence. There we will find the resources to revitalize our body, mind, and soul. Teachers: Let’s be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around us, however unlikely or unlike they may be. Let’s be sensitive students. Transformation: Let’s welcome the positive changes that are taking place in our life and open up the windows and let in some fresh air. Wholeness and healing are waiting in the wings.
Unity: In this age of global spirituality, let’s respect differences but affirm commonalities. Let’s work together with those who are trying to make the world a better place. Vision: Let’s practice the art of seeing the invisible and use the wisdom of our personal visions to renew ourselves and our community. Wonder: Let’s cultivate a vibrant curiosity and welcome the reports of our senses. The world is alive and moving toward us with rare epiphanies and wonderful surprises. Let’s remember we are standing on holy ground.
The mystery: Let’s accept the unknown as part of life. Let’s not try to unravel the profound mysteries of God, human nature, and the natural world. Let’s love the ineffable. Yearning: Let’s follow our heart’s boundless desire. It takes us out of ourselves and fosters an appreciation for the multidimensional pleasures of life. You: Let’s accept that we are children of God. Let’s sing our own song with gusto and fulfill our mission as copartners with the Holy One in the unfolding drama of the universe. Zeal: Let’s be passionately aroused by life and cherish every moment, honor our commitments, and treasure our kinship with all.