In a sermon to his people in the fifth century Augustine said:
We are now travelers on a journey. We cannot stay in this place forever. We are on our way, not yet home. Our present state is one of hopeful anticipation, not yet unending enjoyment. We must run without laziness or respite so that we may at last arrive at our destination. Sermon 103, 1
Some 1500 years later when I was chaplain at a small New England College I gave a sermon that began this way:
“Today the doctors told me that I am going to die.”
Three of the four gospel writers tell the story of the first time human beings were called to ascend a mountain to see the transfigured Jesus-God. Matthew gives the following description of the event: Six days after his first prediction of his passion and death, Jesus took Peter, James and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. And his face shone as the sun, and his garments became white as snow. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking together with him. Then Peter addressed Jesus, saying, “Lord it is good for us to be here!” Matt 17:1-4
After years of living a pagan lifestyle and searching for the meaning of life in various ideologies (Manicheanism, Neo-Platonism, Skepticism), Augustine finally came to the Christian point of view. Thereafter, the spiritual life of a human being meant one thing for him: the attempt to arrive at union with that person who was All-Good: the infinite, immutable God. But where in this life is that God to be found? God's primary place (if that is a proper word) is in that immense realm beyond time, an area far removed from human experience and impossible to reach as long as we continue our pilgrimage on earth. The very fact that we are "pilgrims" is a sign that we have not yet arrived at our destiny. Where then are we to find God in this world?
Spirituality is one of those impressive words that is sufficiently vague as to mean anything you want. In its most broad sense it can encompass how one sees the world and deals with it a sensible human fashion. In this usage it begins with knowledge of the self and the real world beyond the self. It then moves to the development of rules of action for making wise and prudent decisions about living in such a world.