26 March

The Spiritual Life: What Others Need

by Jon Katz

Thomas Merton wrote that spiritual life is not about hiding from life or avoiding it, the spiritual life is about life, and how we live it, every day.

The spiritual human – Jesus, Mother Teresa, Merton, King, Mandela, Gandhi,  the Dalai Lama, Buddha – doesn’t ask “what do I need today?” he or she asks “what do others need today?”

The people who ask that question inspire the world and are never forgotten.

Right now, in our world, almost everyone is in need,  a rare cosmic occurrence in human history.

I am especially fortunate in that I, and the people I work with, have identified people in need – a small fraction of them – and are seeking to help them, a metaphor perhaps, for the world at large.

In the coming weeks, so many human beings will come together in need, a great happening in human history. All of us will be challenged to respond in our own best way.

This morning, I’m loading up a bunch of computers in my car and driving it to a small village nearby to meet a Bishop Maginn School Teacher named Dr. John Harden.

Given that I am at risk for serious health problems relating to the coronavirus, I won’t invite John to sit with me and have some coffee, which is a shame, because he seems to be such an interesting and compassionate person.

I won’t shake hands, which I usually do, or tap him on the shoulder, which I often do.  Or talk about the school and its needs, which we have done several times.

I won’t go into the convenience store next to the parking lot where we are meeting.  I won’t ask him how he is or talk about the kids he is teaching. When we separate, I will wipe my hands with the anti-bacterial wipes I carry with me. I will use them to wipe the nozzle when I get  gas for the car.

I’ll open the rear trunk of my SUV and stand back while John and I take turns unloading the computers into his car.

Then, staying at least six feet apart, we will wave and say goodbye to each other, I’m sure he will offer thanks to the Army Of Good for making these laptop computers available to the children who desperately need them this week.

This is my spiritual world today, and hopefully for many days to come. It is about life.

It is not about being a hero or a saint, it is about being fulfilled in a meaningful way, and asking every day what is it that other people need.


    1. I love Michele Obama, but I don’t know as I would put her up with Mother Teresa and Gandhi in a spiritual rather than political context…Mary’s life is something of a mystery to historians, I’m not clear about it, neither are they..

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