“We are not so much human beings trying to become spiritual. We’re already inherently spiritual beings and our job is learning how to be good humans! I believe that’s why Jesus came as a human being: not to teach us how to go to heaven, but to teach us how to be a fully alive human being here on this earth.” cac.org
Trying to become “more spiritual” has led me down many paths. Most of them dead-ended into a briar patch filled with thorny theology and noxious self-righteousness or a deep, dark, ominous forest filled with fairy-tale goblins and witches. Yes, my best efforts aimed at becoming a more spiritual man usually began with an honest desire for growth, but then resulted in a retreat to a comfortable position which put Larry down here on earth and God somewhere between Pluto and the ends of the universe. I liked it that way. “Don’t get too close, God. I don’t like change and I know growing closer to You requires change.”
Fortunately, the return trip to a somewhat sane reality, even if not a true reality, has always taken hold before my sobriety or sanity was compromised. (Some would argue the sanity part). The church fellowships which painted an extremely bleak picture for my soul if I did not acquiesce to their theology, the book which promised eternity if I followed every paragraph of its treatise, the do-gooders who sincerely tried to save my soul with a litany of “thou shall and thou shalt not” all appeared real and salvific from afar. But, up close and personal, they failed to make Larry a better human being. I continued to wallow in my universe of self, accepted God’s forgiveness and grace when times were tough, then , wandered off into self-absorption until the next crisis arose. Never could find true north, never could understand what in the world was missing with my faith. I read the books, studied the theologies, and explored the religious traditions, but I knew I was not growing.
Today, I continue to be amazed by the ways in which God comes aside me and says, “Listen to me. Follow me. Live for me. I am the salvation for which you are searching. I have the answers. It’s all in a neat little package called Jesus. Read him, know him and follow his Way. When you do that you will also know me and you will become a better human.”
“Yeah, God, easy for you to say. Do you know the sinkholes on that path, the fallen trees crossing it, the raging rivers to ford, the giant animals waiting in the forest to devour me, the savage natives wanting to cook me for dinner? You do remember that Jesus got crucified for following the Way, don’t you?”
“Of course I know all about that. I created it, remember?” God’s reply is not always encouraging and it rarely is easy.
Father Richard in his daily meditations points to the facet of mystic teachings that can be elusive in today’s Christian teachings. That forgotten aspect of Christianity says that I am not separated from God by space, time, or physical limitation. I am a spark of the spiritual entity which I call God because every member of humanity was created in the image of God and every man/woman has that divine DNA within. We are spiritual manifestations of the creators. I am inherently a spiritual being dwelling in a limited physical body. My task here on Earth is not to search for ways to increase spiritual acumen, but to recognize who I am as a child of God, what God taught through the man named Jesus and thereby morph into a better, more compassionate, more loving, more altruistic human. For me, that makes much more sense than chasing after spiritual gurus and distant heavenly salvation.
22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
These are not external qualities which need to be acquired through good deeds and righteous behavior from a heavenly source. Rather, they are within each one of us waiting to be nourished and then shared with the remainder of humanity and God.