The movie brought both of us to tears. It was the 2009 “Where the Wild Things Are” and my 12-year-old son, Simon, and I couldn’t believe that we had somehow missed it – given our shared love of the same children’s book. Near midnight, Simon sat with his head resting on me, crying the spilled-over tears of a full-heart, and perhaps a backlog of other experiences. Tears poured down my cheeks, too. Where the Wild Things Are

The previous day, I’d heard an interview with a religious leader who argued against classifying anything as “spiritual.” It got me to thinking about what “spiritual” means to me, and why I might (or might not) choose to define anything as spiritual. 

As I sat in the quiet dark, holding my soon-to-be-teenage child, and flowing with him as strong emotions arose, I felt we were sitting in a rain of golden oak leaves and light. That a portal opened up, and there was nothing but this very moment. That I couldn’t imagine how it could ever be possible to love a human being more than I did in this moment.

If “spiritual” is a thing for me, it would have to encompass this moment. 

To me, “spiritual” means recognizing and collaborating in beauty. And by beauty, I mean what’s real and alive, even if that means broken, messy, awkward, or complicated.

In the Zen Buddhist tradition, it’s said that you can point at the moon with your finger as a way of providing teaching, though the pointing can never be the actual moon. Here are 100 finger pointing instructions toward what “spirituality” might be:

  1. Sitting with my brand-new, tiny son in the early hours of morning, watching a train glide by the window, watching the moon, watching snow glitter on the branches near the window
  2. Sitting with my 12-year-old son as he empties his heart, connecting with what matters most to him, and working through what has challenged him in recent months
  3. A snowy owl on the dunes at Riis Park Beach that twists its head around, then lifts off in expanded flight low along the beach
  4. Catching my mom in a hug as tears well up in her eyes, seeing her gratitude for the people who are alive, present, and joyful at this year’s family Easter celebration, and her grief for those who are no longer with us
  5. Practicing the 5Rhythms in community in a friend’s class, feeling inspired, exhausted, creative, alive, aggrieved, hopeless, and motivated all in just two hours time
  6. Meditating in the pre-dawn hours as light seeps into the sky
  7. The Rocky Mountains
  8. Exquisite cheese
  9. Having candlelight breakfast every day
  10. Running and diving into the ocean, then doing butterfly timed with the swelling waves
  11. My grandfather making the sign of the cross every time he stepped into the sea, then floating on his back with his ankles crossed, staring up at the blue sky
  12. My sister’s extraordinary ability to animate puppets with breath
  13. Having clear closets and clean weekly systems
  14. My father’s commitment to meaningful civic action
  15. My mother’s commitment to disrupting the status quo in favor of beauty and human dignity
  16. My uncle’s tireless work to create a community health center
  17. Beach glass
  18. Dancing with the sea
  19. Poetry
  20. Song swelling in the body then expressed as vibration
  21. Fireflies
  22. Dancing with fireflies
  23. Having a fuzzy caterpillar crawl across your bare foot
  24. Eating burritos on the top of a mountain with my brother
  25. The ocean at night
  26. A story that makes me ache
  27. A joke that gets wrapped around four times, including everyone in the humor, yet impossible to re-tell
  28. When your best friend answers your text right away and sends an emoji that perfectly matches how you’re feeling
  29. The joy of wonderful-smelling deodorant
  30. When linear time loosens its grip and you are free to move through multiple dimensions
  31. The first garden tomatoes of the season
  32. Falling in love more after you break up
  33. Getting to know your grandfather more after he transitions to after-living
  34. Petals blowing all over my Brooklyn street in early spring
  35. Missing the train
  36. Snow under streetlights
  37. Daylight savings when it means more daylight
  38. Daylight savings when you’re forced to return to the austerity of winter
  39. My spirit entourage
  40. Being somewhere no one can catch you in their gaze
  41. Being in front of an audience
  42. My mother’s love of rich pattern
  43. The densest, coldest, deepest part of the Hudson River
  44. Protected space
  45. Parking tickets
  46. Patient attention with no agenda
  47. Being reprimanded by your boss
  48. Speaking your truth
  49. Cutting through bullshit
  50. Going on a hike with a big group of people you barely know
  51. A reflective glacial lake with no boats
  52. Portals
  53. Ley lines
  54. The movie E.T.
  55. When smell opens memories
  56. Bedtime routines
  57. Singing to my son
  58. Singing with my Dad (even when he gives me evil eye if I’m off key)
  59. Straining to sing a lyric
  60. Resonating and singing a challenging lyric with ease
  61. Singing publicly
  62. Singing alone
  63. The incense and candles at Catholic church
  64. The sound of rivers
  65. Horrific boredom
  66. Poorly fitting underwear
  67. Purring
  68. Puppy enthusiasm
  69. Holidays when no one gets too drunk
  70. Meditating on the beach in the early morning
  71. Snow angels
  72. When your mind gets so quiet you can hear energy
  73. When your eyes get so quiet you can see molecules
  74. Traffic jams
  75. Dancing while in labor
  76. Dancing to integrate failure
  77. Dancing to remember your place in things
  78. Dancing everywhere
  79. Owls
  80. Snowy owls
  81. Did I mention owls?
  82. River spirits
  83. Card games
  84. Scrabble
  85. Dancing the grief of spirits
  86. Dancing with birds in flight
  87. Dancing your relationships
  88. Dancing your life cycles
  89. Sleeping through the entire night and remembering your dreams when you wake up
  90. Turning off the flashlight and walking through pitch black woods at night while listening to owls, wolves, and stars
  91. Clear water in glass bowls
  92. When someone paraphrases you so well they show you something you didn’t realize you said
  93. Avocado with lemon
  94. Having somewhere with a beautiful view to write
  95. Community
  96. Ferocity
  97. Integrity
  98. Mindfulness
  99. Vision
  100. Love

In the beginning I didn’t think this would be anywhere near 100 items, but I felt happy and playful as the list grew.

I do very much believe there is value in setting up “spiritual” practices and spaces. The sands of our daily lives are so quick to bury anything that isn’t on our daily task list that it is essential to intentionally create space and time for spiritual work.

But that doesn’t mean anything in our experience should be excluded. On the contrary, there is nothing that can’t be seen as part of our “spiritual” life, as food for our spiritual growth, as an opportunity to step more fully into this wild dance of love.

Meghan LeBorious is a writer, teacher, and meditation facilitator ​​who has been dancing the 5Rhythms since 2008 and recently became a 5Rhythms teacher. She was inspired to begin chronicling her experiences following her very first class; and she sees the writing process as an extension of practice—yet another way to be moved and transformed. This blog is not produced or sanctioned by the 5Rhythms organization. Photos and videos courtesy of the writer.

Image is a still from the 2009 movie “Where the Wild Things Are”

 

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