I have deep conviction that life is essentially a spiritual enterprise; or, as someone has said, “We are spiritual beings having an human moment.” But to be honest, I’m hesitant to even use words like “spiritual” for in my culture they too often refer to jargon and rhetoric which I now see as ideological bondage described by the Apostle Paul as, the “letter of the law” which he described as spiritually lethal.
Bear with me here as, in my hubris, I attempt to define “spirit,” to put into words that which is Ineffable and therefore beyond the grasp of language. The human ego is driven to attempt to but this Essential into words, to capture that which always eludes the effort to grasp it. This is the existential dilemma of human beings, having in their heart an intrinsic drive to find meaning only to eventually to discover that the Ground of our being where meaning is found is always beyond our ego’s effort to capture, and therefore “own” it. This obsession eventually brings us face to face with the experience of humility in which we have the opportunity to accept that this “Ground” is present in the very quest that drives us and is satisfied when we begin to resign from the “beseeching” of the ego and rest in the comfort of Grace, in the knowledge offered to us by W. H. Auden that “the Center that we cannot find is known to the unconscious mind. There is no need to despair, we are already there.” Or, to put this wisdom in biblical terms, we must come to realize that God is “the author and the finisher of our faith” so that at some point we give up the efforts of “the flesh” to earn salvation, be this effort intellectual or moral endeavor.
This brings up the subject of meditation, a dimension of prayer which is usually dismissed in Protestantism as it is antithetical to Protestantism’s obsessively rational approach to Spirit. Meditation brings one to recognize the limitation of rational thought, a recognition that teaches one the value of thinking but simultaneously the value of recognizing, and experiencing that there is more to spiritual endeavor (and to life) than rationality. The most powerful expression of this insight I’ve ever run across was provided by Shakespeare when, in Hamlet, King Claudius was on his knees in prayer, offering these words, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”
So, how have I done in defining Spirit? Failed miserably huh? Well, good. Then I’ve accomplished my purpose. Life is a spiritual enterprise and rational understanding of it is completely beyond the grasp of our finite mind. When this understanding and experience of finitude begins to sink into our ego-ridden consciousness, we are brought to our knees…so to speak, or perhaps literally. For then we begin to embrace the incomprehensible Mystery of life which, paradoxically we recognize always has and always will Graciously embrace us. “There is a Divinity that doeth shape our ends, rough hew them how we may.”
ADDENDUM–I am about to diversify with this literary effort of mine. In this blog I plan to focus more on poetry and prose. Below you will see two other blogs of mine relevant to spirituality and politics which have lain dormant for most of the past five years. I hope some of you will check them out. However, the boundaries will not be clear as my focus is very broad and my view of life is very eclectic/inclusive/broad-based. Yes, at times too much so!