by: Jane Bishop Halteman

October 26, 2015

Back in the day at my former church, I led a weekly contemplative prayer gathering that often focused on spiritual practices.  One night, as we looked at the practice of enthusiasm, we learned that the word is derived from the roots “en”—in or within—and “theos”—God.  Enthusiasm means having God within or being one with God. 

“People with this gift carry a special kind of energy.  They bring warmth and feeling to their relationships and vigor and freshness to their activities,” according to the Spirituality and Practice website, which describes enthusiasm as the experience of things as ever new, and ever renewed in God’s ever-beginning Creation.

Mystic Hildegard of Bingen counseled her spiritual directees to be “juicy people,” folks filled with wonder and curiosity, with lusty appetites and high spirits.

Take a few minutes to consider how God might be calling you to be enthusiastic using this prayer exercise, “God in My Breath,” which is a brief version of one Anthony de Mello presents in Sadhana: A Way to God. The intention is to bring God within—en theos.

Close your eyes and practice breath awareness for a moment, then reflect on the fact that the air you are breathing in is charged with the power and the presence of God.   Notice what you feel when you become aware that you are drawing God in with each breath.

While you breathe in, imagine your lungs filling with divine energy.  As you breathe out, imagine you are exhaling impurities, fears, negative feelings, apathy, boredom.  Picture your whole body becoming radiant and alive through this process of breathing in God’s life-giving Spirit and breathing out impurities.  Sit a while with this awareness.  

Take a look at the enthusiasm represented in the photo collage which appears with this post, and then do an enthusiasm examination of yourself.   Spirituality and Practice suggests considering these questions:  When do you feel filled with God? When do you feel most alive? What are you passionate about? Do you always feel free to express your enthusiasm? If not, what tends to stifle this spiritual energy? How would you like to experience enthusiasm?  Have you ever experienced enthusiasm as a faith practice? 

Do you have friends who sometimes are like cheerleaders because they spur you on to greater things through their enthusiasm?  How might you be that kind of friend to others here at KRMC, in your neighborhood, at your workplace?

I love these comments by Kay Redfield Jamison on exuberance, a close relative of enthusiasm:  “Exuberance is an abounding, ebullient, effervescent emotion. It is kinetic and unrestrained, joyful, irrepressible….exuberance leaps, bubbles, and overflows, propels its energy through troop and tribe. It spreads upward and outward, like pollen toted by dancing bees, and, in this carrying, ideas are moved and actions taken.”