Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Essence of Spirituality

When John Wesley wanted what the Moravians had, he identified perhaps the most basic element in human spirituality: the yearning for something more. The peace of Moravian faith Wesley witnessed for himself amidst the trauma of a terrifying storm at sea. While he was panic-stricken, the Moravians were singing hymns. St. Teresa of Avila was known to have prayed, "O God, I don't love you. I don't even want to love you. But I want to want to love you."

There are often moments when we are confronted with the true spiritual reality of our lives: we want for ourselves what we see in others. A friend and colleague seems tremendously in the zone every time I see her. So centered, focused, prophetic, possessed by a mission that is undeniably authentic and obvious. What can I do but admire that!

There is no silver bullet of spiritual health. No matter where we are or where we've been, I believe all we've got to work with is our longing for more of God. And the honesty, like St. Teresa, not to call it love. The willingness to be a beginner is the enduring foundation of the Christian spiritual life, and in the end, our wanting to learn, not how far we've come, is what's most important.

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