Spiritual Exercises – Kinship

Spiritual Exercises - Kinship

Option A)  Kinship on Commute

This is a way to build up your sense of being part of the whole – a sense of kinship with all that is – simply through being mindful on your daily commute.  Whether you drive, take the bus, or use the train to head into work; or take the same route daily to drop the kids at school, or have a regular routine to head to the gym, or walk the dog, use that daily travel to practice kinship.

Make an effort to be hospitable, welcoming and respectful to all the life you meet on this regular commute.  Smile, wave or nod at the people in the other cars, at the cardinal perched in the tree, at the dog barking in the window.  If you can, take a moment to wonder about their lives, or simply look them in the eyes and smile.  If you use a car to commute and get frustrated by other drivers, try to slow down and make space, let them into the lane with a wave.  Try to remember that we are all in this together, and make an effort to connect, even in a small way, with some of the other beings on your daily commute.

Even if you feel a little silly, keep on with this intention for as much as you can over the month.  Relationships take time to develop, but if others share your schedule, over time you will become familiar to each other.  Be present and try to connect with your kin.

Come to the group with the story of your experiences in commuting kinship. Did it make any difference to the way you feel when doing this daily travel?

(adapted from Rev. Scott Alexander’s kinship practice).


Option B) The Wider Circle

Take some time this month to consider who is in your wider kinship circle.  Not your family and friends, but mentors and strangers and animals and writers and actors:  the people who may have spoken just the right word at the right time, or wrote the book that made you feel known and understood.  The animals that made you feel loved when you felt most alone.  The people that reminded you that others have shared similar emotions and experiences. It might have been a high school teacher who saw your interest in math and cultivated it, or an author who opened your eyes to the wonder of downhill skiing.  Who are the people you remember when you need to be brought back to yourself, reaffirmed as you are.  Who stands in this larger circle, reminding you of who you are and how you belong?

Take some time to write the list, or draw it, and name the ways that they belong to you as you belong to them.  Bring the list to the group and share some of the names.


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