It is Sunday. I wrote the first draft of this post as the inaugural scribbles in a fresh notebook while sitting on my porch and listening to Indian Summer on my over-the-ear headphones. It was supposed to rain today, sleet even; there was talk of snow flurries. In typical Texas fashion, the weather opted out of all of the above, choosing one of my favorite weather shapes instead – overcast and windy, with teasing spurts of moisture and random slices of sunlight that give color and shadows to the afternoon.
Pigeons are swooping low over the rippling chlorinated water of the community pool. I’m across from the tallest tree for a mile; its branches are bare save those reaching highest in the sky. The leaves there have clung to their home throughout winter, a silent and simple reminder of the preserving virtue of nature. I’m sorry if I’m boring you, but I’m feeling spiritual. Carl Sagan spiritual mind you:
“Spirit” comes from the Latin word “to breathe.” What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word “spiritual” that we are talking of anything other than matter (including the matter of which the brain is made), or anything outside the realm of science. On occasion, I will feel free to use the word. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
If there is a specific day that infuses me with spirituality, it’s Sunday. Perhaps this is a leftover emotion from years worth of Sundays spent being told the latest New Light from The Watchtower. Personally, I think I owe more to the labor unions. Saturday is a day to have fun and get things done. Sunday is a day to rest and reflect. I don’t need a holy book to tell me that, it is a side effect of our societal setup. Obviously, I don’t think religion has a monopoly on spreading goodwill on Sundays.
With this in mind, I’m starting a new blog tradition: Blooming Society Sunday. A weekly form of secular invocation to enrich my life and enliven my metaphorical soul, and yours too, I hope. By nearly every measure I can imagine, the world is improving. Not all scales show the weight tipped favorably, but many do. The massive scale that houses all the smaller ones is ever weighing the deeds of humanity and determining our future. I don’t believe anyone is watching the continual balancing act and the only ones influencing the distribution of weight is each and every one of us.
Blooming Society Sunday is one of my attempts to shift more of my weight toward the betterment of our world and its inhabitants. Each Sunday I plan on sharing some way of shifting the balance in our favor. I imagine most of these things will be small – where to find donation and volunteer opportunities, which books to read to increase understanding, and ideas for deeds that we can all do to help others. I want to discover small ways to affect the big picture, to mindfully load the scales with good.
Here’s my first idea, the introductory bloom: join me – if you want to. I won’t beg, pester, or implore, but I am asking. We’ve all had moments where we’ve thought ‘If only everyone would (enter simple and brilliant idea here), then we would all be better off!’ I’m only asking that you share those moments. I’m not suggesting that this is a silver bullet. In fact, it is the opposite. Nothing so explosive as a bullet is going to make a positive change in the world.
Humans improve one thought at a time. We have to plant the seeds if we ever hope to see a bloom. So, if this appeals to you, come dig in the dirt with me on Sundays. If not, I hope you’ll come back next week to see what I’m planting.