I have fallen victim to a multitude of spiritual practices over my lifetime. I have practiced scourging as a spiritual practice. I did so to purge myself of sin as I drew closer to the physical pain of The Christ upon the cross.
I have tried extreme fasting, sort of fasting both to lose weight, as sloth & gluttony are bad news, and to draw nearer still to the Creator. I have memorized Bible verses to exercise the dangerous wandering thoughts that my mind and body lust after. I have gone all Jesus-ninja on all sorts of ills.
I had an accountability group back in the day that made sure that if I masturbated that I got an equal dose of shame and guilt. We may have even had prizes for the fella that abstained the longest. If we did not we should have. We certainly aspired to be pure, like refined gold.
I sang and worshiped with the zeal of a pig in slop. I cried. I spoke in tongues. I held my arms up in the air. I even waved them around pretending that I did not care. I replaced all of my “secular” music with “godly” Christian music. Even though this substitute music mostly sucked. I marched on ward. If it was offered as a spiritual fix I gladly consumed it.
I alienated friends and family with my bizarre journey to be spiritually disciplined. I held the beggar’s bowl of hope in the direction of anyone that seemed to have their shit together. I was no better then, during, or now with spiritual practice. I still love the fad practice of spiritual hunger.
This year alone I have tried 5-6 different practices. The ones that have stuck [the longest at least] have been exercise, remembering, and shit talking. The exercise as spiritual practice is not very uncommon.
Exercise as a spiritual discipline can be traced back to the Vedic culture of the Indus Valley some 5,000 years ago. Ever since conscious awakening I am sure that someone somewhere has used physical exertion to draw nearer to the divine. I have no real evidence of this beyond my own insight, knowledge and the bojazz I have chased on Wikipedia.
I have recommitted myself to the art of getting into shape. I am trying to stay n track and not fill my life with pressure. So I got to the gym as long as I want. When I go I try to work as hard as I can and leave it all there. I have discovered that there is a language my body speaks as I sweat, and strain to go faster and harder in these workouts. I listen to this rhythm that my body makes and off I go into myself and into the divine. It is amazing that I have this amazing instrument of pray that is awakened as I listen to it.
The remembering practice was my primary Lenten discipline. It was awesome to intentionally connect with who I have been. It was deeply connecting to me as I discern where I am going.
I loved to remember the people and events that delivered me to this day. I have gotten off task with this practice. It is difficult to intentionally remember the past, especially if you have had a rough go at it.
This leads me to my latest spiritual endeavor, shit talking. Growing up, this single activity of shit talking was essential to communication with and around my family. I come from a long line of shit talkers. If you are not getting ribbed or verbally assaulted then no one likes you.
It is a form of storytelling and as a spiritual discipline takes the profane and reconciles it with the divine. I am not talking about slamming folks with malice and anger. That is not shit talking. If you are angry and spiteful as you throw about the verbal banter then you miss the boat of connections. Connections are what spiritual discipline is all about.
If you can playfully talk trash to someone you are entering a place where real relationships are being forged. It takes great care and love to tell someone something difficult about them. Shit talking is a form of stretching boundaries and dulls the growing edges when done correctly.
There is a right way and wrong way to talk shit. The right way involves dedication, discernment, compassion, observation, and love. Shit talking when preformed in love opens up the Other and the self to critical reflection. It is a way for iron to sharpen iron. When performed the wrong way it leads to further hurt and causes disconnection of community.
I am no expert on how to wield this shit talking power. I am just learning to use this discipline for good. I imagine that as any discipline it takes practice to master the art. I am sure of the value of shit talking as a spiritual discipline. As any other discipline it is not for all to like or practice. I have tried many things to draw nearer to the divine. I do not practice all of those things today. My spiritual life ebbs and flows with who I am in the moment and where I am with the divine.
I do not claim to know God all that much. I do have a deep desire to know more of God or about God. I have had moments of divine bliss that lead me to believe that God is present in this profane world. Shit talking with the right shit talkers has brought me closer to the divine and dissipated the unnatural fear of God. To fear God we need to be near God. That is why the messengers always say, “Fear not.” What do we have to fear if we are not near God? Now that is some shit to talk.