The Importance of Spiritual Wellness

Once per year, my health insurance provider asks me to submit my “numbers” so they can assess my physical wellness. I dutifully submit my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol, in hopes I can stay on their good side. My bank likes to see certain numbers, too, ensuring my accounts are in good order. The guys who repair my car run computer assessments on it. They give me printouts at every oil change to show me how my tires and brakes are doing so I can plan ahead for repairs.

There are many types of wellness that can be quantified, but spiritual wellness is different. I don’t think spiritual wellness is about numbers, though I’ve certainly been led to think so at several points along my personal and professional journey. How many scripture passages should I know by heart before I’m considered faithful enough? How many times a month should a person appear in worship in order to be considered an active member of a church? Should a pastor be evaluated on worship attendance and how many people join their church in a given year?

I believe there is a stark difference between being “religiously active” and “spiritually well.” Spiritual health might incorporate specific religious activities, but the truth is a person can recite their sacred scriptures backward and forward from memory and standing on one foot, and still not feel spiritually well. A person can worship regularly on the Sabbath, but spend every other day of the week feeling empty and alone. A person can be faithful and still be mean-spirited.

Do you feel spiritually well? This is not the same question as whether you go to mass, chapel or confession. Feeling spiritually well means, among other things, feeling content about your relationship with the divine, and at peace with your place in the world and with others. Spiritually healthy people are not exempt from life’s challenges, but meet them head-on with a sense of hope. Spiritually healthy people are often outwardly focused – aware of their surroundings, and accepting of the many people who share life’s journey with them. Spiritually healthy people live out their faith (whatever faith tradition they may claim) with compassion, generosity and gratitude.

At Cedar Community, we try to provide opportunities for our residents and team members to develop their spiritual health. Yes, we make sure we provide opportunities for worship, study and community prayer. However, spiritual wellbeing might also be enhanced through volunteer work, time spent on our wooded trails or on the lake or through the time someone takes just to listen to another person’s questions and fears.

Spiritual well-being is a very individual experience and it is rarely something someone achieves once and for all. It is always a work in progress. It is always a journey we can share with others. In sharing that journey with another, somehow our own sense of spiritual wellbeing is improved and that makes for a more spiritually healthy community – what a blessing!

-Rev. Kathryn Kuhn, UCC