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Virtues nurture the fruits of the spirit

Saturday November 22, 2014 Written by Published in Virtues in Paradise

We all need soul food. Not the fried chicken, collard greens and chittlins variety (although I do love me some soul food!).  

Healthy bodies need clean air and water, fresh foods, exercise and good sleep. 

We also need to care for our spiritual health.  There is an expression, “Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder – isn’t that SADD?” 

Yes, it really is. People often excuse a mistake or a hurt they cause by saying, “Hey, I’m human. It’s just human nature”.  

Not that we shouldn’t forgive others and ourselves, but our human nature is actually far more wondrous than a lame excuse for sin, which means “off the mark”. 

Catholic theologian Teillhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Genesis 1:27 gives us our true identity: “God created human beings in his own image.” This doesn’t refer to our bodies, but to our souls. In church, our children sing: “Read your Bible, pray every day, and grow, grow, grow.” 

What should we grow and how? The Baha’i teachings say, “We are here to acquire the virtues of the Kingdom.” 

Virtues are the way we reflect the Divine presence into the world. 

A kind smile reflects God’s Kindness. 

A righteous decision – to do the right thing – makes Righteousness shine more brightly in the world. 

The more we grow them, the stronger and more powerful virtues become. Christian monk Tolbert McCarroll said, “Virtues are the muscle tone that develops from the daily and hourly training of a spiritual warrior.” 

The tests we experience are God’s way of pruning us, helping us to grow stronger. 

 Reverence is one of the most important virtues to grow.  Just as our bodies need daily food, a healthy soul needs a routine of reverence, a daily devotional.  

I think of it as RPMS. 

1. Read sacred words to uplift and inspire you.  

2. Pray – pray your sadness, your confusion, your joy, your gratitude. 

3. Meditate. This is the listening part of prayer. Don’t hang up before you receive answers. “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and hidden things that you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

4. Serve. Make your life a prayer, your actions a blessing. 

When my brother John was dying of brain cancer, Dan and I moved into his home to care for him. 

Every morning we did our RPMS together, including a Virtues pick. 

John was in awe of the spiritual awakening that he experienced as he was dying. “This isn’t an emergency,” he’d say. “It’s an emergence.” He called our daily devotional “the heart of my life.” 

He said that prayer had changed for him. “How has it changed, John?” I asked him. “It used to be a duty. Now it’s food. It’s my daily nutrition.”  

Our doctor said he had never seen anyone face death with such peace. 

We all have the choice to nurture the “fruits of the spirit” (Galatians 5:22) by practicing our virtues every day. 

The Baha’i Writings say: “He who sows a seed in this day will behold his reward in the fruits and harvest of the heavenly Kingdom.” My brother John is one of my heroes – a true example of a spiritual warrior, a man who sowed a rich harvest. 

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