We are rapidly approaching the high holy day of Easter resurrection… an odd time to be talking about when Church doesn’t work anymore. Or maybe not.
Though the official start of the season was several weeks ago, the ritual of trying on new dresses/ dress shirts/ shoes for this Sunday celebration marks the real beginning of Spring. We imagine warmth and sunshine/colorful flowers and vegetables/budding trees and singing birds. Visions of new life abound not only in the physical world but in the spiritual corners of our souls. We have renewed hope that God’s promise of resurrection will feel real again.
And so on Easter Sunday, millions will flock to churches of all kinds in search of something… in need of purpose… to fulfill a sense of obligation. For some it will work. For others it won’t… but don’t let that be the end. God still wants you whether you can sit inside the Church or not. When the idea of Church doesn’t seem to work anymore, chew on these.
Holiness is nothing more than becoming your authentic self.
Key word here: authentic. This isn’t about narcissism but about having faith in yourself as a human creation of God. Become who you are meant to be in God’s eyes.
Effort and difficulty are adversaries of spiritual development.
i.e., the harder you try, the more you fail… probably because you’re not being your authentic self (see above). Artificial prayer and contrived spiritual practices are like forced conversation… they never feel or fit right. And if it doesn’t feel or fit right, why would you keep doing it?
Accept your own vulnerability.
Love becomes strong when you’re not afraid to admit that you need help… with everything. Vulnerability is not a matter of self-pity or woundedness; it means allowing yourself to be human… and dependent… and worthy of being loved even when there is nothing you have done to earn it.
Accept where you are in life.
Avoid working to create a false self in endless pursuit of achievement which invites people to consider your record rather than your heart, your resume in place of your presence. Humanity is limited; God has created you to bloom.
Use your natural human emotions for spiritual growth.
Anger/greed/selfishness show us as much about ourselves as love/peace/forgiveness.
Reject the tendency to organize life rigidly.
Ardent religious and spiritual seekers tend to believe there is a “right” way… which is merely another means of wanting to control the journey. Sorry, but God doesn’t work that way.
Jesus did not strain to be who he was. He didn’t teach in fancy or mysterious words. He told stories and parables… opening the way to God for everyone through him. The institutional Church is human and can only/ever be human… constantly needing renewal just as we do.
We need a strong spiritual life to help us maintain the commitments and responsibilities of the everyday. So when Church doesn’t seem to work anymore, remember:
- Be yourself.
- Let holiness emerge from the way you live.
- Do not seek or avoid vulnerability. Let it come.
- Become peaceful wherever you are.
- Develop your emotional horizons.
- Do not organize and program life rigidly.
(But don’t take my word for it… these thoughts come from Thomas Merton.)
Question of the day: Is it working or not working for you? Why?