Julia Claire Landry
This is the first of our Spirituality Spotlights featuring our Campus Minister for Graduate Student Ministry, Julia Claire “JC” Landry. Check back here for next week's Spirituality Spotlight and read more about JC's road to spirituality.
Question: What does spirituality mean to you?
JC: My favorite scripture verse is Isaiah 43:19: "See! I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth, can you not perceive it?!" From this view, spiritual practice is a important in allowing us to see from a perspective other than our own...to begin to consider God's perspective upon our experiences. There's a quote by one of my favorite authors, Sue Monk Kidd, that captures well my view of spirituality: "I'm discovering that a spiritual journey is a lot like a poem. You don't merely recite a poem or analyze it intellectually. You dance it, sing it, cry it, feel it on your skin and in your bones. You move with it and feel its caress. It falls on you like a teardrop or wraps around you like a smile. It lives in the heart and the body as well as the spirit and the head." Spirituality is the permission we give ourselves to get real -- real with ourselves, real with what's happening right now in the world and in our relationships, especially to get real with the relationship we have with the Divine.
Q: How do you practice your spirituality on a daily basis?
JC: I go through spiritual "seasons".... how I practice changes over time. Sometimes it's music, sometimes it's conversation, sometimes nature, often it involves something creative or involving art supplies. In some seasons I pray with the scripture readings from the Catholic lectionary. Whatever it is, I'll find a practice and then do that---A LOT, like, for months at a time-- and then move on to something new. Often my walks with my dog, Annie, are part of my daily reflection. Lately it has been taking several deep breaths before prayer and inviting the love, grace and mercy of God--which I believe is present always and everywhere-- to be present where I am. I find myself practicing the Ignatian Examen much more frequently in this "season," which I am loving; it's like a spiritual "re-calibrating" each day.
Q: Have you learned anything about yourself through this/these practice(s)?
JC: I've learned that I typically defy routines and disciplines, but when I embrace them, they serve me well.
I keep discovering over and over how attached I can be to my will, my way, my ideas, my desires -- while simultaneously finding the extent to which those attachments get in the way of what's possible, what's needed in a given community or relationship, or where God may be calling me.
I also discover that God is always perpetually present, but spiritual practice allows me to get present. When I am present, all that God has in store for me -- grace, love, mercy, forgiveness, growth, healing, learning -- whatever .... I can receive that when I am present.
Q: In what ways do you believe practicing spirituality connects us with something greater than ourselves?
JC: In every moment, Love Is. In every moment, Peace is possible. Always, God is... and God is Love. That may be God's reality, but on a day to day basis, that's not my reality!! All I have to do is consider the daily headlines and Love, Peace, Unity -- these seem impossible given the violence and hatred it is so easy to come across. It seems that a lot of the time, Love, Peace, Connection, Fulfillment, Partnership, Healing, Justice--these are inaccessible to me, left to my own devices. When I engage in a spiritual practice, I can set aside the "lowercase jc"--or my identity, my fears, my doubts--and see through the eyes of the "uppercase JC." To see with the eyes of Christ is to allow transformation to continue to happen: here, now, where I am. Spiritual practice allows the mundane to become miraculous.