Lulu Santana

What does spirituality mean to you?

LS: Spirituality is the language for my relationship with God. Any spiritual act or attitude is a reflection of who I understand God to be and how I understand myself in relationship with God.

How do you practice your spirituality on a daily basis?

LS: For me, it's about using all my senses to notice God's presence within and around me. There are overt prayer practices that I try to engage in regularly such as mass, reading scripture, journaling, prayer devotions, reviewing my day, and asking where I notice God, and where not so much. However, I’ve come to recognize God more and more in places and experiences where I may not anticipate encountering God. As I grow, I realize that spirituality is much more about being open and attentive to how God shows up in my life (often in unexpected ways!), rather than the practices I may plan in my day. The intentional practices are still quite important as they help me to grow in awareness, yet I can’t help but smile when, in the course of a day, God interrupts my plans and stirs my heart in ways I could not imagine. What do I mean? Well, God may get my attention while I read the paper, stand in line in at the grocery store, work out at the gym, go for a walk, share a meal with friends or family, recall a dream, witness suffering, color a book with my niece, receive feedback, people-watch at an airport, write a thank you card, talk with a stranger, brush my teeth, listen to a baseball game, watch the squirrels scurry around campus, clean the kitchen, and in many other ways.

Have you learned anything about yourself through this/these practice(s)?

LS: I have learned that God will meet me where I am at, often in unexpected ways. I have learned to rest in the belief that God is the one leading me and not the other way around. God can and will use anything to draw my attention. A few years ago I was feeling the emotional weight of a number of things that were happening in my life. I prayed and prayed for comfort and guidance. One morning while at the gym, I was stretching next to a man who was working out with a trainer. The man was doing push-ups while the trainer pressed down on his back, on which was also a 45 lb. weight. The man was struggling and panting as the trainer called him to do more reps. I remember thinking, “Glad that’s not me!” When he finally collapsed on the floor from the exertion, the trainer told him, “I don’t do this to frustrate you, I do this to strengthen you.” Bam! The words resounded through me like an electric shock. Those words became a source of understanding, guidance, and comfort that had not come to me in a conventional spiritual setting.

In what ways do you believe practicing spirituality connects you with something greater than yourself?

LS: My belief in God is what gives meaning and purpose to my spirituality. Practicing spirituality is my way of saying, “Yes, God. I want you in my life.” The various spiritual practices that have informed and shaped my whole identity, only have meaning to me when put in the context of a God who exists within and beyond me.