I’m wary and weary of the new trends in spirituality that I’m seeing. I’m concerned and saddened that the current trend seems to be self-centered. Yes – you are important. Yes, you need to have a good sense of yourself. Yes – you are valued and loved by your Creator.
But so is everybody else. Every other person on this Earth was created by the same Creator. Every other person on this Earth deserves love and honor. I’m concerned that this current trend of self-centered spirituality will result in self-service only. It is fine if it is a start. It is fine if it is a seed that then grows into love and service of others.
I find that the “name it and claim it” trend is part of this. Wishful thinking. Magical thinking. Whether it is cloaked as New Age or spun into Christianity by Joel Osteen, it still feels like object-worship. It is materialism gussied up into religion. Don’t have time to be spiritual? Don’t think it is for you? But you want stuff – right? Well, here’s a religion for you! This way you can want stuff and feel good about it.
But stuff only leads you away. Things, material possessions, are a quick fix. Get what you want by praying for it, wishing for it, and you have more stuff. But then I feel you will still be empty. And then you’ll need to pray for a bigger house to hold all your stuff.
I think our Creator made us to be bigger than that. We are not born alone. When we are born, we are born into a community. At a minimum our Mom is there. In some cases it seems like the entire family is there – Dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings – where there is barely room for nurses and a doctor (if necessary). Our religions have prayers for welcoming new children among us. Why should our lives be any different?
I remember telling a lady about how Jesus stripped things down for us, because the Ten Commandments were just too hard for us to figure out. Love God, and love your neighbor. Easy. Everything else falls from that – you can’t steal, covet, or murder if you are showing love. How simple is that? Yet we’ve twisted it. It is becoming solely “love yourself” – and that love isn’t spreading outward.
I believe that God created every single one of us exactly the way we are because that is exactly the way we are needed. Variety is good. Eccentricity is good. We all have different talents and gifts. A garden doesn’t look nearly as interesting if it has only roses blooming in it. Add some zinnias and hyacinth and phlox and we’ve got something really cool. The same is true with a symphony. The trumpet may be a really important instrument, but it needs a tuba to round out the bottom notes, and there needs to be a drum section to keep the pace.
I believe that the best way to know God is to seek Him in his creation – and for some, that is in the wilderness. Some find insight and growth by working with plants and animals. I find however, that the most challenge comes in seeking God in people. Mother Teresa said that it was her privilege to serve other people. She felt that each person she served was Jesus in disguise. That the leper’s wounds were Christ’s wounds. That the baby dying in her arms was Christ himself. I think this is a powerful meditation.
About three years ago I started trying this at the library. I’m not doing earth-changing things. I’m creating library cards. I’m solving problems. But I decided to try this. To try to see each person as if they are Jesus, as if they are God made flesh, in front of me. To my happiness, it resulted in profound experiences. Almost every person caught that vibe. They responded differently to me – more smiles, more open. Each transaction was easier. This doesn’t mean that everybody was happy. Sometimes you can’t make that happen in a five minute encounter. But the old, crotchety, smelly, snaggle-toothed characters that populate the library became my favorites. I now look forward to meeting with them and helping them. The weirder they are, the more I have to look for God hiding within them. The more I look – the more they see my interest in them. The more they soften up and reveal themselves to me. It is beautiful.
I invite you to look outside yourself.
I invite you to know that you are loved, and to then know that everyone else is loved in exactly that same way.
I invite you, that if you are a seeker of God – if you desire to know your Creator better, you can do no better than to serve your fellow humans. Each one is a facet into the beauty and mystery of the Eternal, the Divine, the Truth.
(I originally wrote this 4-11-12. Somehow it sat in my files, unpublished. I’ve decided to go backwards through them and see what I’ve missed. Sometimes I have so much I’ve written that it gets buried. Sometimes it gets recycled into other things)