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The Key to Spiritual Growth

6 prominent thinkers share their insights on how to nourish your soul

Reverend Norman Eddy

The Rev. Norman Eddy of East Harlem Protestant Parish in New York

We can learn to use "spiritual hearing aids" as we get older. That means learning to hear things you haven't heard before, listening more deeply to what spirit — the inner voice — is trying to tell you.

Often, this message is about gratitude. As we get older, it is more and more important to give thanks! I'm 91 years old and a day doesn't go by that I'm not aware of the many little things to be thankful for. It doesn't matter how insignificant they may appear to others.

A flower blossoming, a child's laughter. We must never forget to give thanks. We must also never forget to have a sense of humor! We can learn to laugh at ourselves as we age — at our absentmindedness and so on. This is helpful at any age, of course, but even more so as life's challenges increase.

Professor Amina Wadud leads a Friday prayer service

Dr. Amina Wadud: Muslim Scholar and Activist

The key is renewal. We need to understand that faith is a dynamic thing. It's alive. Therefore, it must be replenished, renewed, reinvigorated, as we get older.

It is important that we practice khalwa, which means learning to be alone with ourselves, our hearts, our lord, whatever we consider sacred. Alone time for contemplation, worship and developing good intention are integral to a wise life. Often when they age, people fall into habits of redundancy instead of renewal.

They want to hold onto the old ways, to return to things they can be sure about.  But this can hold us back. If God is dynamic — and I believe that this is true — then we should aspire to being dynamic, too. 

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