In whatever way we come to know the living God, it is always sacred. Gary Thomas writes a helpful little primer:
This guide is designed to help us decipher our own natural resonance for seeking God. To recognize our sacred pathway is to recognize the uniqueness with which we’ve been made to know the Living God in Christ.
Why does this matter and how does this help us?
For one, it helps identify those activities and exercises that can best feed us spiritually. For another, it might free us from being frustrated by trying to live someone else’s spirituality. And it might release us from judging others who seek and worship God differently from us.
Nine Sacred Pathways:
Naturalist – Loving God out of doors – recognizing that the earth is the theatre of God’s glory.
Sensate – Loving God with the Senses. Being moved by music, drawn closer to God through smell or taste or seeing a painting or fresco that caused your spirit to soar are all signs of a sensate.
Traditionalist – Loving God through ritual and symbolism. Traditionalists are fed by the historic traditions of the faith including sacraments, rituals and symbols.
Ascetic – Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity. Ascetics value solitude and simple surroundings and are fed by silence.
Activist – Loving God through Confrontation. Activists need to stand up for justice – they are energized by working for justice – the things on God’s heart.
Caregiver – Loving God by Loving Others. Caregivers often see God in the poor and needy and are best fed through service to others.
Enthusiast – Loving God through Mystery and Celebration. Enthusiasts want excitement and mystery in worship and are cheerleaders for God and the Christian life.
Contemplative – Loving God through Adoration. Contemplatives seek to love God with the deepest, purest love possible. Contemplative desire to give themselves completely to God; body, soul and mind.
Intellectual – Loving God with the Mind. Intellectuals love to discover new truths about God and explore Him with their minds.
No sacred pathway is better than another.
Pointing to Jesus as our model, Matthew Gaither notes:
… We can look at the life of Jesus and understand that as we grow and mature in our faith we too will begin to exhibit preferences for all of these sacred pathways. As young Christians, we may begin our faith journey by most identifying with only one or two pathways. But as we begin to let the Holy Spirit work in us and we become more like Christ, we will begin to grow into other pathways and new ways to worship.
Let me encourage you to read through this primer – and identify which sacred pathways you most identify with. Explore how knowing this might contribute to your spiritual journey.
Note typo in the primer: Chapter Six should read: “Caregiver”, not “Activist” (already identified in Chapter Five).
For more, take the “Sacred Pathways Survey” from Soul Shepherding.