Defining terms is tricky business. Not all terms lend themselves to succinct phrasing and precise language. In trying to define pornography, Justice Potter Stewart uttered the now famous lines “You know it when you see it!” Can the same be said for spirituality? You may recognize spirituality when you see it, but so often you don’t see it coming until it’s there. That’s the kind of spirituality I refer to when I use the phrase Accidental Spirituality. It’s something we hadn’t planned for, but are grateful for its appearance.
We are often surprised by a spiritual experience for which we have not planned. We may be doing something quite ordinary when the unexpected occurs and we see a depth or quality in our mundane activities we hadn’t noticed before.
Jelaludin Rumi, a thirteenth century mystic, wrote:
I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I have been knocking from the inside.
Rumi wasn’t surprised by his insight – but he expressed surprise for all of us – when the opposite of our assumptions were in fact the truth.
Accidental Spirituality is about awareness – a willingness to let nature reveal itself to us at its schedule, not ours. Over time, I am sure I will learn from others, modify my definitions, add to my understanding, discard what no longer works, try out new postulates, abandon those that have failed me, explore new territory, and embrace the process.
This website will provide an opportunity for other voices to share their own experiences of Accidental Spirituality, and will provide me with a forum where I can share my own voice with you, and discover wounded places in our heart just waiting to be nurtured.
-George Kaufman, 2017
“George Kaufman’s Accidental Spirituality is a quilted treasure of spiritual comfort. Where darkness hangs, it illuminates; where confusion reigns, it clarifies; where the heart hurts, it soothes. In this brimming collection of accidental stories, George’s courageous zeal for life and commitment to living as a spiritual warrior is as inspiring as it is healing.”
Carla Goldstein, Chief External Affairs officer at the Omega Institute and co-founder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center.
“In George Kaufman’s brilliant collection, Accidental Spirituality, beautifully written essay after essay, we are reminded to slow down and live fully. Kaufman savors the complexity of the human condition. His stories are teachings, sweetly told, filled with wisdom, superbly crafted and consistently entertaining.”
Nancy Slonim Aronie, author of Writing from the Heart; Tapping the Power of your Inner Voice (Hyperion) and founder of the Chilmark Writing Workshop on Martha’s Vineyard.
The title for this book is just like its author: funny, self-effacing, thought-provoking, wise. Accidental spirituality: Those two words invite us to open the book’s pages without hesitation because we know the author won’t moralize or condescend, but at the same time, he will take us into the wide-open and hopeful landscape of the soul. It’s a rare person who can be both a fellow traveler on this human journey of accidents, tumbles, and befuddlements, and at the same time, be a trusty guide. This is George Kaufman.
Click here to read more from George on his blog
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“I’ve read a few chapters of your book and find them comforting and thought provoking. I’ve decided to read a few before turning off the light each night. We are now in our Lenten season. Our church prepares a “devotional book” each year with reading for the days of Lent written by members and based on biblical chapters or verses. I find writing my one or two contributions to the books stimulating – but you do it much better. I’ll finish my reading and share it with some folks at church.”