If God is real, then we should be able to communicate with the Creator. Right? Just like we do in our relationships with spouses, friends, and other loved ones, we should be able to talk with and listen to the Divine. We should be able to get into the flow with God’s Spirit and live from that space like an athlete or artist who’s “in the zone.”
I grew up Roman Catholic and went to Catholic schools. All the intellectual stuff my parents and catechism teachers taught me about God provided a good spiritual foundation, and I’m grateful for them.
But something was always missing.
I wanted to experience God. Directly. Intimately—like I do my loved ones.
I wanted to take what I’d learned intellectually and integrate into a real-life, God-with-skin relationship with the Creator. I wanted to know what God feels like on the inside—in my heart. I wanted to know God has my back and I’ve got his, and we’re in this thing called life together, like I used to feel when I was a kid.
Just like my friend Sandy, I wanted to hear the quiet whisper of God’s voice.
Ancient Wisdom for Finding Flow
While studying to become a spiritual director thirty years ago, our teacher gave us the assignment to create a Rule of Life—guiding principles that would steer our life’s course. As part of the coursework, we learned about a ton of saints and spiritual masters, including Saint Benedict.
Benedict, a fifth-century monk who started the first monastery, gave his monks a template for finding balance between prayer and daily work (ora et labora). He called it a Rule of Life. The monks were asked to create a Rule that would become their guiding principle—a framework for finding inner peace and balance in their daily lives. Today, we might call it a personal mission statement.
As I pondered my personal Rule, I looked to the spiritual giants we studied. I noted how each man and woman—Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, Julian of Norwich, Saint Teresa of Avila, Jesus, and others—had four common lifestyle practices that shaped their lives.
First, they took daily time for solitude, to be alone with God—time to meditate and listen in the silence for the Whisper of the Holy Spirit.
Second, they read the writings of spiritual masters to gain insight and learn wisdom.
Third, they surrounded themselves with people who inspired them to grow, people who nudged and encouraged them to take another step outside of their comfort zone.
Fourth, they did the inner work to discover their unique talents and gifts, to figure out what made them come alive. They then used those talents in life-giving ways.
Getting Into the Divine Flow
I shaped my Rule of Life around the ancient wisdom of Benedict and the other spiritual masters. The following became my Rule, the guiding principles through which I seek inner peace, balance, and wholeness. I’ve even written a book, about them which Paulist Press will publish in early 2022.
Taking quiet time each day to connect with myself and God.
Studying the writings of others further along on the spiritual journey to discover the wisdom and guidance they offer.
Surrounding myself with people who inspire and nudge me to grow.
Contemplative Action/Spiritual Gifts
Doing the inner work to discover my unique talents and gifts and then using them in ways that are life-giving.
This Rule of Life has become my mission statement. It keeps me on track toward living “in the flow.” I define flow as being one with the Divine Spirit who opens our hearts, allowing us to experience inner peace, balance, and wholeness.
This definition has these components:
- It points to our heart’s deepest desire: being loved and guided by God, the Source of our Being.
- It’s the Holy Spirit that opens our hearts. Our job is to create the time and inner space for Divine Love to grow.
- When we deepen our relationship with God, we experience inner peace, balance, and wholeness. We plug into the wisdom and guidance the Creator offers us.
These components serve as the foundation for connecting with our True Self and God. When we integrate them into our lives, they help us experience abiding joy.
I believe we can take Benedict’s ancient wisdom, even if we’re not monks, and find unique ways to incorporate these spiritual practices into modern life. We can shape our lives around these guideposts and reclaim wholeness. Balance. Inner Peace.
Rediscovering Who We Already Are
According to Robert Thiefels in his book Standing in the Midst of Grace, we’re already whole because we’re made in God’s image and likeness. We’ve just forgotten that truth. So, we need to remember and live into who we already are—individuals shaped and formed by God’s love.
Finding flow is a way we can reclaim that Divine Image. It’s a way to live in the Spirit’s Flow.
Finding Flow operates much like a submarine. When all four chambers of the vessel are in proper balance, it stays afloat. It performs like its engineered. But if one chamber is too full or empty, the submarine malfunctions.
It’s the same with our lives. If our spiritual tanks aren’t filled with the right amount of silence, spiritual reading, community, and using our spiritual gifts, we struggle to stay afloat through life’s challenges. Clogged with fear and anxiety, we sputter. We become overwhelmed.
But if we take time to fill our spiritual tanks with the right nourishment for our souls, we connect with Divine Flow. We experience faith, hope, and love. We live the life we’ve imagined.
This Is How We Do It
Over the next four weeks, I’ll focus these Simple Wisdom reflections on the above four spiritual practices as a pathway to living in the flow. I invite you to share this blog with others who might be interested in learning about Divine Flow so they can join the conversation about Finding Flow.
Here’s what we’ll reflect on each week:
May 31—Solitude—How does spending time each day in silence quiet our minds so we can hear God’s voice of gentle love?
June 7—Spiritual Reading—How do we gain wisdom from the writings of other seekers on the spiritual path? How does spiritual reading give us something to chew on during the day and help us integrate what we’re learning?
June 14—Community—Who are the people in the “inner circle” of your life? Who inspires you to grow? Who stretches you and keeps you in the flow? (I’ll also include a simple exercise to create your inner circle of trust).
June 21—Spiritual Gifts/Contemplative Action—What are your spiritual gifts? In what ways are you using them or being invited to use them in life-giving ways? (I’ll include a link to the free spiritual gifts inventory on my website you can download and take to discover your gifts).
Join me over the next few weeks. Let’s get into the Flow!
—brian j plachta
To learn more about the background of Finding Flow