The Real Thing

Saturday morning. After an hour-long aerobic workout, I jumped into the shower feeling very much awake and alive. Refreshed from the shower, I sat at the kitchen counter and peeled one of the special oranges shipped from a Florida grove. The juice ran over my hands as I pulled back the skin from the succulent fruit. Ahh…there’s nothing like it! I savored every bite as I remembered the years I lived in South Florida and ate bag after bag of oranges right from the grove.

Whether it’s a vine ripened tomato picked from the garden, a peach from the orchard, or citrus from the grove, nothing has the delightful taste of fresh, natural produce. While we eat lots of different food, those of us who have been lucky enough to eat produce near the place of harvest know that nothing else has the level of flavor, freshness, or nourishment as these luxury items.

It’s common knowledge that most of our food is processed and loaded with various additives including laboratory engineered artificial flavors. When we eat naturally grown products, we can immediately tell the difference between the “real thing” and the “artificial” product.

Mass processing of food has conditioned us to accept artificial color and flavor as genuine. In a similar way, we have been conditioned to accept artificial substitutes for religious practice, spiritual experience, and personal fulfillment. The artificial forms of religion, spirituality, and personal growth are self-absorbing rather than life-enhancing. Just as we relish the occasion to enjoy fresh grown produce, we draw similar nourishment from spiritual depth marked by authenticity that is absent in popular forms of ersatz spirituality. Just as our taste buds can tell the difference between tomatos ripened in a backyard garden from the commercial winter fruit, our spirits recognizes the sustaining potency of authentic spirituality that opens our hearts from the self-preoccupation of contrived experiences that clutter the world of religion and commercialize spirituality.

Sustainable Spirituality opens us to levels of depth for creating meaning, purpose, and value over the course of our lives. It does so by not just drawing us to an inner way of balance and personal wholeness but by also drawing us beyond ourselves in relationship to others and the world around us. Sustainable Spirituality is much like the rhythm of breathing: inward to nourish our bodies with oxygen and outward to share the breath of our life with the world.

Sustainable Spirituality brings life to us and to the world around us by drawing us to live in the nature rhythm and balance with which we and the cosmos were created. Living from a foundation of sustainable spirituality is just as natural as eating vine ripened produce grown the way nature intended: it’s all about what’s real and authentic.

© 2011, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

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