1. When have you experienced God or the Divine through "doing" rather than through just "thinking?" How did the experience provide meaning?

2. Why do you think birds are so often associated with spiritual figures such as Jesus and St. Francis? What meaning do you think birds represent?

3. Are you able to see people as artichokes, with their vulnerable inner delicacy hidden beneath tough pointy leaves, as Jean Houston suggests? What vegetable would you use to describe your true nature?

4. What hobby or pastime or other activity provides special meaning for you? Describe why.

5. What aspects of life provide the most meaning for you? Have you found more meaning in things as you’ve gotten older?

Possible Practices

1. Practice assigning meaning to things – starting with some objects that you have around you all the time (perhaps on your desk, in the kitchen, or on a shelf in your house.) Share with a friend what deeper significance you see in it.

2. Check in with a friend to see if they assigned the same meaning to an experience you shared. Journal about how you might try to see things as others see them as a practice for expanding your own horizon.

3. Think about your work, hobbies, chores, and other activities. Which have special meaning to you?

Visit the Meaning homepage for more ways to practice this spiritual quality. Follow the links in the left column to:

  • a collection of quotations on compassion
  • book recommendations
  • book excerpts and teaching stories
  • film recommendations
  • music and art meditations
  • a daily cue, reminder, vow, and blessing for compassion
  • a prayer or mantra
  • personal explorations including imagery and journal exercises
  • practices and spiritual exercises
  • questions for discussion, storytelling, sharing
  • take action with household, group, and community projects
  • and more

Prepared by Persephone Zill with contributions from Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat