“A devotional life is one lived in the presence of the Lord.” (author unknown).
There are many ways to practice devotion. For some, it is finding a quiet place in which to pray; for others it is taking a pilgrimage to some special place in which to connect with God, nature, or one’s self; for yet others, it is listening to (or playing) music that brings one into harmony and peace.
Whatever your method (and believe me, we all engage in acts of devotion whether we know it or not), they are a sign and symbol of how we are connected to God, the Divine, or even the “Force. “
Even atheists and agnostics have a devotional life. Not believing in God, they ARE their own higher power, and so they devote their time and energy to the worship of that in which they DO believe, whether it is power, influence, or the pleasures of a hedonistic life. They know there is life beyond themselves, and so they do those things that cultivate their relationship to that higher power, however they define it.
That’s because we are spiritual beings. We can’t help but express ourselves mysteriously and in ways we can’t always explain. The point is that a devotional life often brings us inner peace.
The ball player who rubs his team-mate’s hair before hitting the field is engaged in an act of devotion. One might call it superstition, and yet their act is an effort to reach beyond themselves – to honors the gods, so to speak – and obtain a good reward in return.
Everything is linked to something else. The air we breathe in is a gift from the world around us, and the air we exhale is needed by the world in return. We nurture one another in just being, and even when we die, we return to the earth from which we were created so that nothing is lost.
One of the things we gain from our acts of devotion is self-discipline, by which I mean our ability to learn and grow. It allows us to see life in relationship with our world as well as with ourselves. When we stop and examine what we really believe in (as revealed by our various acts of devotion), then we are able to see better how our lives impact people, places, and things around us for good or ill.
If you want to be a force for positive results, then there are certain steps you can take to help make that happen.
First, cultivate your garden of devotion. Tend the soil. Remove rocks and obstacles to healthy living. The Bible tells us we are here to take care of our world. That is what “stewardship” means. We pay attention to what needs doing, and we do it.
The second step is to choose what seeds we want to plant, cultivate, and have thrive. Do you want love, joy, peace, and such? Then you need to plant those virtues in your garden. They won’t spring up on their own. Weeds spring up when we do nothing, but tasty and nutritional fruits and vegetables grow when we take care to plant them. So choose and plant your seeds wisely.
Thirdly, water your garden. Your garden needs water when joy begins to turn brown with dullness, when peace begins to crack with cantankerousness, or when your love begins to wilt with apathy. What kind of water do our gardens need? Kindness.
Kindness makes joy bright, makes peace supple, and brings love into full flower. So be sure to water your garden with much kindness.
And finally, be sure to rotate your crops and add a wide variety of virtues to your field. God did not give us a world of black and white, but full of color and variety. Try new things; stretch your imagination; invite friends to participate – to share and grow their devotions alongside you, and see if that doesn’t please God and neighbor (and even yourself).
Remember, you are one of God’s wonderful acts of devotion in this, our world – and in you God is well pleased!