Rarely do I think about the spiritual journey as something fast. And yet, how often do I hear the phrase “a quickening of Spirit?” Just saying the word quickening, I can sense the energy ramping up inside me. Sometimes this energy feels frenetic, while at other times it feels lighthearted – like the easygoing innocence of a child. Trying to say the word slowly seems unnatural. These days I find myself wondering if I even understand at depth the role of quickening in my life.
I know I have a general comprehension of the term, but recently I’ve focused more on getting clarity on what quickening really means. After all, it seems antithetical to refer to the spiritual journey as quick – the idea just stresses me out. I don’t need things to be quicker; I yearn for a continued slowing and simplicity to my days.
What I can tell you is that questioning is a good thing. Doubt is not the opposite of faith – it is actually the definition of faith. Doubt is a doorway, an entry to getting closer to the mystery. Our willingness to question, as well as our awe and wonder, is what leads us on our journey of discovering and knowing Truth, of knowing ourselves and each other.
So my first questions are these: If there is a quickening of Spirit, what is it and then how do I access it each moment? How do I cultivate the innocence I knew as a child? How do I translate the awareness of Presence from moment to moment into my daily life? Is this what the quickening is about – hopping from one moment to the next?
I don’t actually have the answers to these questions, but they are each an opening for me to participate more fully in my life, which I believe is what the quickening of Spirit is all about. The root of the word quick literally means “to come to life,” “to give life to,” or “to animate.” (It’s also, in fact, the term for the when a pregnant woman first feels her baby move.) It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with speed or rapidity.
Quickening is about giving voice to the questions, which when expressed – when we dive into our doubts and wonderings – ultimately help us feel the connection we have with everyone. This energy of questioning, and ultimately quickening, is the nervous system of the cosmos. Because it brings us to the awareness of our interdependence with all life, it is the mechanism for awakening God within in order to birth a larger life.
Yet how do we engage in questioning without making ourselves crazy with uncertainty? How do we know quickening? What does it really feel like, spiritually, to come to life or to be animated? In Dynamics for Living (Unity Books, 1967), Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore wrote, “Truth is a quickening, creative energy… Believe in the quickening power of the word. Hold the word in mind. It will reveal itself, for wrapped in the word is its meaning… By planting it in consciousness and waiting for its fruit, anyone can prove that the word is seed.”
In other words, to experience being quickened by Spirit, we have to slow down. To hold something in mind means being still, quiet, and present. If we want the word to reveal itself, we must stop and wait for it to be unwrapped. It is giving time and space in the ground for the seed to animate and bear fruit.
As with all spiritual truths, there’s an inherent paradox. The energy of being fully alive must come from deep stillness. And then for this stillness to become animated and vital, our questioning must have a rhythm, not speed. It must move along with some consistency, with aliveness. So, you want to birth a greater experience of life? Then slow down, dive deep into the stillness of questioning so that you might know the quickening of Spirit – the aliveness of creation waiting to be birthed when it is ready.
Originally appeared in the September/October 2015 issue of Unity Magazine, www.unitymagazine.org.