An Appreciation of Tradition As A Spiritual Practice

Today is my last blog, for now, on the topic of Tradition. I hope you have enjoyed my reflections this month.

Through blogging on this topic I gained a deeper appreciation of the complexity of Tradition, some of the shadow sides of Tradition, a deepening appreciation of the legacies that I contain as a person and to which I contribute in my own way.

I have chosen not to reflect directly in this blog on specific written traditions, cultural traditions, political traditions etc.. My hope has been that these reflections might encourage your own reflections and even perhaps discussion about specific traditions with others in your family and community.

In our fast paced world with seemingly new customs created daily, I find it helpful to look deeply at the custom to see the continuity, the tradition, that may be within it. Such reflection helps to ground me in this time. How about you?

During the month of October, I will be blogging on the topic of an appreciation of “clearing the way” as a Spiritual Practice. I will have more to write about this in my next post.

As I write this, it is the afternoon before Yom Kippur. I am not Jewish, but for my friends who are, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers during these holy days.



Appreciation of Tradition As A Spiritual Practice

The way forward bearing tradition

is similar to hermit crabs

who walk sideways.

We, like them, seek shells.

Always needing a larger one.

New growth requires a new shell – still moving sideways, more often than forward.

Yet, little by little making progress, if progress is to be made.

What makes us desire a shell?

What shell will contain all we are becoming? Who have we been, dear finite ones?

A shell provides safety perhaps from bumping up against other shells. However, bruised we may wonder what is entirely safe?

A shell provides selfhood, or rather a gathering in of self. Containment.

We bearing tradition, walk sideways. What shell do we choose for our journey now, dear finite ones?

Perhaps a weathered shell,

a good sized one,

a gnarled encrusted one,

One with history,

One filled with love.

An Appreciation of Tradition as a Spiritual Practice

I am coming to the end of this month of short reflections on the topic of Tradition.

I have chosen to look at Tradition in an abstract way, not at specific traditions, but rather as part of the ethos of being human. The light and shadow of Tradition has formed us as part of families, communities and cultures. Tradition is so much of who we are that it is not questioned until circumstances reveal change and perhaps conflict in our world as we know it. We each contain many traditions: familial, educational, cultural, judicial, medical, religious among others. Where is there change? Where is there continuity?

So, what makes appreciating Tradition a Spiritual Practice? The key perhaps is in the willingness to move into contemplation to reflect on what is, and what was, and to see the continuity between humans through time.

During this early Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere as the days grow shorter, I invite you to reflect on Tradition and yourself as a being that embodies traditions, creates customs which may become traditions, yet who lives life in this present time and place.

So, do I have a favorite tradition? I have many. This time of year may have me taking long walks, enjoying the crisp air, gathering leaves or pine cones and returning home to where it is warm and there is light. The tradition that is carried forward may be of countless generations doing the same, each in their own time.



Please share any thoughts or comments that you have below. I love to read them.

Appreciation of Tradition As A Spiritual Practice

Tomorrow will be Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. It is my favorite time of year!

My reflections on tradition this month have required me to look at some of the shadow sides of Tradition. As in the previous month, it is easy to see the roots of hatred and racism as evils (among others) carried along through time. Those are traditions which we must continually work to rid ourselves of.

There is also loss of custom and Tradition. The recent hurricanes, fires, floods and earthquakes have changed people’s lives and communities forever. Yes, in a changed situation men and women will seek to re-create their traditions and that is a strength, but traditions may have changed in the re-creation.

And so we are, human beings, carriers of Tradition, often resilient, living into a new season. That is a blessing.

What traditions do you consciously experience in your life? How might they have been different in the time of your grandparents? What has changed?

An Appreciation of Tradition As A Spiritual Practice

I have been reflecting on the shadow side of tradition. I find it to be a challenge to reflect upon what one often does not see, or chooses not to see.

You may agree or disagree with my observations below. I would love if you shared your point of view.

  1. Tradition is inherently resistant to change while at the same time ongoing change is absolutely vital to tradition.
  2. Which traditions are valued has to do with power. Which traditions are devalued or invisible is also a statement about power and control.
  3. The relationship between custom and tradition is permeable. There is no specific time frame when custom becomes tradition.
  4. Tradition shapes what we value.

I write these observations as a woman who has grown up in a particular country and who has been educated in a particular school system, including graduate school. I came from a particular family and worship in a particular faith tradition. My understanding of secular and religious time, my reading, my appreciation of art, and the way I understand my life are all grounded in tradition. I can’t separate myself from my tradition as I have been formed by it, because I am that. Am I able to change? – yes, but slowly.

Traditions shape us. This week in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be Fall. The season brings with it both traditions and customs to be celebrated. Those traditions and customs of harvest, life, death, gratefulness and generosity (among others), ground us and provide witness to who we are and whom we are becoming.

Spiritual Practice.

  1. Reflect upon your complex traditions. What do you accept as normative? Are there distinctions between spiritual and secular? Distinctions between gender and gender roles? Distinctions between culture, race, physical appearance, age etc.
  2. Where and when have you experienced dissonance, if any?
  3. Explore another tradition, another culture. Another way of being? How is it lived? What are apparent self understandings?
  4. How is your experience of tradition changed by exploring another.
  5. Write a poem, an art journal page, an essay or other creative action to further reflect on your experience.



An Appreciation of Tradition As A Spiritual Practice

Today is September 11. In the United States, we remember men and women lost due to the attack on the World Trade Center and elsewhere. We remember where we were when we heard the news. We remember our feelings of shock, despair, fear, anger, and grief. Lives have been changed forever due to these events.

It is so important that we remember the lives lost sixteen years ago and to reflect on the changes we have experienced and in our world views.

As individuals and communities we knowingly or unknowingly join in expressing our grief in a spiritual tradition as old as humankind – the tradition of those who mourn lives ended due to violence.

Today perhaps, you may wish to reach out to one another, talk about your experience and remember events and individuals. Light a candle. Take a walk. Hug your spouse. Remember.

Appreciation of Tradition As A Spiritual Practice

I begin this month’s topic with a certain amount of reluctance.

I feel reluctance due to polarized attitudes toward tradition as something more important than this present time, and attitudes equally fixed as to say that tradition has absolutely no place whatsoever.  I am not specifically reflecting on religious traditions, but rather our understanding of place and identity in this particular moment.  Is tradition something to be received, albeit critically?  Or rejected?

What do you think?  Why?

Rootedness as a Spiritual Practice

We have come to the end of the month. Thank you for reflecting on rootedness. If this topic resonates with you, I hope you will continue to reflect on it.

A few posts back, I suggested a process of drawing roots. I don’t know if you still have them. It is alright if you don’t. But, please follow along as I guide you through a final look at rootedness for this month.

This month we have experienced a lunar eclipse, a solar eclipse, racial hatred and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Hurricane Harvey and its devastation, and flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal among other global events. This list does not include more local events. It has been helpful for me to remember my rootedness in the Holy One. I hope it has for you as well.

Once again I am going to ask you to draw or paint roots. Last time, I asked you to label the roots. This time however I just want to look at the root and imagine that as your connection with the Holy One. Is it a strong root, a thin root, a short root. Whatever it is, I ask you not to judge it, only spend some time quietly looking at it.

Then I would like you to draw roots branching off of the main root and traveling horizontally. Where do these roots go? Are there also roots coming to you, healthy roots, strong roots? Where do these roots come from? How do they feel?

In the TedX video that I shared, the roots of the forest not only went down but across, communicating, and responding to the other trees. During stress filled times it may be useful to reflect and pray on that.  Our roots do go down to the Holy One but also horizontally in loving, appropriate responses to those we know and care about.  They go as well to the newest refugee from Hurricane Harvey, or elsewhere. And, in receiving care and support from others as well we go about our daily life.

I have enjoyed reflecting on rootedness this month, but now it it is time for a change. During the month of September I invite you to reflect with me on the Appreciation of Tradition as a Spiritual Practice. Our traditions may differ from one another and that is wonderful. I love to learn from difference. However, in a way perhaps similar to rootedness these differences, if they are that, provide continuity amid change, and awareness of identity. I will write from my own understanding and experience. I invite you to add your comments from yours as we travel together through the month.

Please hold this Ministry in your thoughts and prayers. Please know that you are in mine.