Spirituality in a Nutshell

“What is air,” three-year-old Nachum asked me one crisp autumn day as we walked hand-in-hand to nowhere in particular.

What is air?

How do you explain air to a three-year-old?

“Well,” I started to explain, “Air is made of particles of gas. Invisible, microscopic, yet essential to life.”

Nachum looked at me like I had just sneezed. Particles? Gas? Invisible?

This was not an answer he was ready for. It was far too sophisticated. 

How, then could I explain air to my three year old?


I noticed the distant speck of an airplane and prayed that he wouldn’t see it too. How could I explain that if I could not explain that?!

In the end, I distracted him by pointing to an ant dragging a leaf and was thus temporarily saved…

…only later did I realize that cute little Nachum had provided the insight into a great philosophical question I had long struggled to answer: What is spirituality?

Now, folks, I do not want to bore you with philosophy and will this keep this really simple:

Spirituality and air are really quite synonymous: ever-present, difficult to point out, yet absolutely essential to life. Attend it, ignore it, despise it, we all have different reactions to it, right?

Here’s an example:

Right now I live in a cold climate. The river is frozen. When air is too frozen and I’m not protected against it, the wind can be my enemy. It can also be my friend, such as when I bundle up well enough and take a happy walk in the refreshingly crisp winter air. You see, air, while simple, is also a complicated thing!

Air is simple, right? So simple that we tend to take it for granted. We don’t really think about it until it’s gone. And then it is instant panic.

The same is with spirituality. Spirituality is everywhere;  subtle, calm, peaceful under normal circumstances. You can choose to focus on it, or ignore it altogether. Just don’t try to take it away, or ruffle it up too much. Because storms do develop, albeit subtly at first. Either beneath your conscience, or flowing through it. I guess that’s the crisp It likes to evade consciousness, too, unless uncovered in a safe and positive environment. I can go on and on. But my three-year-old son would look at me strangely. Because he just wanted me to explain something simple. Can you grasp the connection?


Such is the nature of life’s essential commodity: think not of it when you have it, suffer when it is gone.

Healthcare has lots of challenges. Insurance, government, Medicare, gigantic hospital systems, I’m not going to talk about those problems in this post. It usually dominates the conversation. That’s a spiritual problem, if you want my personal opinion. You see, spirituality and healthcare are actually inseparable, unless you seal the room and suck out all the air with a giant vacuum, so to speak. Getting back to the the analogy of air. Or analogue. You decide.

Spirituality and air.

I hope to one day explain this to cute little Nachum, explorer of his world.






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