The Impressionistic Life: Insights from Thomas Moore

Author of Care of the Soul and a recent Institute guest, Thomas Moore kindly made time to share “impressions” on life and spirituality with us. A provocative blend of art, poetry, literature, and religion, his “mash up” of insights was bound neither to time, geography, nor single authorship. We share a few impressions for you to ponder. Maybe you’ll find something that resonates with you.

Visiting shortly after a total eclipse of a blood moon, Thomas Moore shared a story of what happened at the lake he lives on when, like many of us, he and his wife waited for the sun to set and the moon to rise. That night, he marveled at the number of humans ringing the lake. “We all came out; then the animals—the geese, coyotes, frogs—all making our noises. Everyone was involved in the eclipse. That’s community, our being ordinary mystics.”

On Community

We find community that way, by wondering could all of life be holy? If so, what is religion? Nothing apart from my ordinary life.

On Simplicity

  • You work so hard to be spiritual, but really you should try to live your own life on earth as well as you can.
  • Live your life receptively, like a willow in the wind.

On Earth

  • The planet is an animal, a being with soul, depth, personality…that you can relate to and love and, maybe,                           be loved by.

On Emptiness

  • At the root of all religion is emptiness…a clean slate.    
  • Emptiness is the foundation of spiritual life. If you can stand and live with this chink in the wall and not have to fill it in…you are a religious person.
  • You’ve got to take your life seriously…and that’s religion. You’ve got to face that emptiness.

On Devotion and Spirituality

  • D.H. Lawrence found the incarnation of the divine in poppies and flying fish. 
  • When you do it right, there’s a soul quality to your spirituality.
  • We want to live where soul and spirit flow into each other.
  • My spiritual life has to be ordinary—a proper blend of spiritual and secular with no boundary between.

Moore peppered his talk with references to artists, writers, and philosophers, some like Emily Dickinson and D.H. Lawrence he referred to as “great theologians.” He reminded us there is wonder to be found and mystery to be experienced in so much of what surrounds us—and what we are a part of—every day. Our thanks to Thomas Moore for reminding us of this simple possibility. If you're interested in more Moore, check out his latest book, A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World.