In the Bible, there are many 40 days and 40 nights of experiences that have to happen as part of having to “endure and mature” in life. They are there to teach us about what we have to do to “endure” if we are to grow emotionally and spiritually.
Moses, as part of his leading the Israelites out of Egypt, stops at Mt. Sinai because God has called out to him to meet him on the top of the mountain to receive the stone tablets on which the law and ten commandments would be written (Exodus 24:12-18). The experience was another 40 days and 40 nights on the mountain with God. This “mountain top experience” required that Moses also wait six days at first before God called out to him in all his full glory. When he came down from the mountain he had to return to the problems of the Israelites who had “lost their direction” and “were frustrated in waiting for Moses to return.”
This all resulted in Moses needing to confront their impatience, set boundaries, while throwing the tablets to the ground which opened up in God’s frustration with the impatience of man who wanted to find ways of controlling things themselves by creating a golden calf as a golden god idol to worship. This also resulted in Moses having to return again to the mountain and God to again receive the commandments that were designed to “shape” humankind into a unified community.
What can we learn from this? Even the Israelites even had to journey in the wilderness for 40 years until they learned to become a functioning team and community. Even more so, each of us must have a “spiritual journey” that takes into consideration our struggles and frustrations as we learn to “delay gratifications” as part of this important journey.
Spirituality for the individual requires understanding and examining many issues, but must consider the five important issues of love: Others, Forgiveness, Work, Belonging, and God.
Love of Others
This suggests that love demands attachment, yet requires a healthy distance.
Love of Forgiveness
Forgiving frees us from the harmful effects of anger, hate, humiliation and embarrassment. It also involves totally accepting others and the differences of others. Love of forgiveness also requires that we “forgive ourselves” for the past in order to free us to be part of the present and future.
Love of Work
God is present not only in prayers but also in the details of our everyday chores. One cannot search for the Soul, or any spiritual meaning from within; Spirituality cannot be divorced from one’s relations in the outside world. Positive intentions, without taking action (doing the work), has little meaning.
Love of Belonging
Belonging is living in the world with others. It is the outward form of communion which requires some degree of sacrifice of one’s self-centeredness. It is appreciating the simple life, honoring basic virtues, and above all, promoting selflessness. It is not focusing on one’s own success. It means believing together (“where two are more are gathered there am I”). One goes to a religious service to “find a congregation of believers who share that which means most to you. Faith comes from “hearing, and sharing, the Word” in community with each other
Love of the Sacred God
This requires believing in the sanctity of everything around us that God has put here for us, including all of our experiences, health, illness, pleasure, pain, joy, sadness, gain, loss, success and failure, birth and death. It is understanding one’s purpose and God’s hand in that purpose. For Christians, it is understanding the Message, the Gospel of Good News, in Jesus Christ and that we are saved, and justified through faith, by God’s Grace.