As I approach my spiritual reading these days, it feels as though there is not really anything new under the sun. There was a time when I would peruse the book store shelves or plunge into the stacks at the library waiting for that next title to jump out and grab me. It would be the book with the next small piece of enlightenment to jump start my spiritual life and to swallow up the lassitude that sometimes threatened to engulf me. I needed that next “fix” of spiritual wisdom that would allow me to experience the next high of relationship with God. And there is no doubt that many of those books have been among my greatest spiritual teachers. I run my finger along the spines of the books that grace my own bookshelf and each name rings out as a personal spiritual friend. There’s Macrina and Thomas, Sunryu and Pierre, John and Teresa. And as I touch each book, I try to remember who I was before they shared their story with me. But I no longer know because what they shared with me changed my mind, sometimes completely and radically. And as I allowed my mind to change my spirit grew more and more solid, real but also spacious. And I feel deep, deep gratitude to my teachers.
But that thirst for the knowledge of the next thing has mellowed at this time in my life. And I begin to see what they are all saying in a more universal light. The philosophies and theologies and world views are all different, but they all pointed me to the same place. They have pointed me to a God of mystery and immediacy who encompasses my every moment without ever needing to completely explain itself to me and it never will. I could go exactly where I want to go, into the very heart of God, without ever reading another word or processing another idea. My spiritual life lives in my heart now, not in my head.
I will always be a spiritual reader, no doubt about that, and I will continue to haunt those particular aisles in libraries and book stores. But now, as I read all of those words, it is not as though I am finding anything at all that is new. But simply remembering what I have always known.