“All things must come to the soul from its roots, from where it is planted.” – Saint Teresa of Avila
The tendency to view education as an investment for the future is the usual discourse in today’s society. It is maybe assumed that if one studies hard, then one will have a favourable job, earn a good salary, own a large house and be successful. There is nothing wrong with this perspective, but we tend to ignore that education is also concerned with personal development.
An essential element of education is about knowing where we are ‘planted’ and what nutrients our ‘roots’ are absorbing. Learning skills is an important societal function, but the ability to think critically is equally imperative. Where is life’s beauty if our sole goal is to be financially solid, and yet unable to answer existential questions? What benefits do we reap from a life only concerned with self-ambition but disconnected from others? What truly makes happy people in today’s busy world?
These were some of the questions I had as I followed the Master of Arts in Spirituality course. At that time, little did I know that I was, in fact, searching for what is essential to human existence. It is this deeper appreciation of what makes us truly humans that this postgraduate course aims to initiate. Studying spirituality as an academic pursuit is an adventure into the depths of humanity and of God. By combining various interdisciplinary approaches the course helped me explore how humans come to make sense of their lives, and how spiritual experiences have an impact on personality development and expression. The god of theologians might be too objectified and complicated to know, but the god of every person could be easily related to. The deeper we went in our investigation the deeper we came to learn that the connecting thread in humanity is spirituality. Everything touched upon during the course contributed to a much fuller reality and more curiosity to explore. Modules like ‘The Spiritual Quest of Humanity’ not only reminds us that humanity is about the ability to own our lives responsibly but also how our capacity for relating with God has developed in other religious traditions making spirituality a universal feature in all cultures.
Needless to say, we were also introduced to an array of spiritual figures which have emerged as influential in the history of spirituality. An essential module entitled ‘Christian Spirituality through the Ages’ was the bulwark for the exploration of the different schools in Christian spirituality. We learned how the history of spirituality has always been dynamic and progressive in its formulation and how spiritual experiences always demanded an enrichment to the whole community. This led us to appreciate our modern context and to make use of the gained insights in our immediate day to day lives.
With such space for questioning and exploration, I came to a better appreciation of my own ‘roots’ as a Christian person. But as a social worker, I also learned to assist better the needs of my clients by tapping into their own spiritual qualities and resources. Such course also presented themes which were later integrated with my own profession such as the element of inner healing and transformation, the importance of community building, tools for spiritual expression, and the importance of being empathic to the spiritual turmoil of others.
All in all, the Master of Arts in Spirituality is a postgraduate degree which invites participants to become more authentic in their Christian faith. It is a course which helped me gain richer insights in Christianity and brought new active involvement in the Church which earlier in my life I tended to ignore. To my own surprise today I look at this experience and realise that it was a very important milestone in my life.
This article has originally appeared first on the “il-Karmelu”