Monday, June 1, 2009

Muchness

I have just a few minutes before I need to finish an assignment and head off to class for the day so I thought I'd attempt to briefly mention all of the thoughts that have contributed to the "muchness" of life right now. I only have about another month of this crazy summer schedule before I can rest and prepare for my final year! Considering that I haven't had the time to sift through all that's in my head and create a cohesive post, a little list action will have to do for now:

1. I've been attempting to read a book by Rolheiser titled, "The Holy Longing: Guidelines for a Christian Spirituality". I haven't made it very far for two reasons. First, there is so much depth to the content and I can only hold so much at a time. I find myself mulling over the metaphors and peering through them to find new meaning and understanding in various areas of my life. And second, I'm reading it in my spare time - which is extremely limited in this season! Anyway, a couple of ideas from the book have really struck me and so I thought I'd attempt to summaries one concept for now and return to a discussion about this book at a later point. I knew I would love this book when I first read the dedication to Henri Nouwen which referred to him as our generation's Kierkegaard. Seriously - the two thinkers who have toyed with and nurtured my heart since my conversion just over 13 years ago - I was enamored before I even began the book.

In the opening chapter, Rolheiser addresses the lifeblood of our soul - the creative energy, fire, desire and power that is the force of life. He goes on to reveal that many people are divided because of how they utilize this life force. Janis Joplin, a rock star who died from a drug overdose in her twenties, is the first example he offers to illustrates his point. Janis Joplin willed many things. Her desire was for the muchness of life - all that there was to offer. And she became exhausted as a result of expending all of her resources on fulfilling all of her erotic desires. Mother Teresa exhibits the opposite form of spirituality. She collected all of her energy, fire, creative potential and funneled it toward one thing - to serve the poor in an effort to advance God's kingdom on earth. Princess Diana, on the other-hand, according to Rolheiser enjoined both the erotic and the spiritual. He writes:

"Spirituality is about how we channel our eros. In Princess Diana's attempts to do this, we see something most of us can identify with, a tremendous complexity, a painful struggle for choice and commitment, and an oh-so-human combination of sins and virtues. Spirituality is what we do with the spirit that is within us. So, for Princess Diana, her spirituality was both the commitment to the poor and the Mediterranean vacations...and all the pain and questions in between. Hers, as we can see, was a missed road. She went neither fully the route of Mother Teresa nor of Janis Joplini. She chose some things that left her more integrated in body and soul and others which tore at her body and soul. Such is spirituality. It is about integration and disintegration, about making the choices that Princess Diana had to make and living with what that does to us...Spirituality is about what we do with the fire inside of us, how we channel our eros" (p. 11).

This definition of spirituality has given me much food for thought lately. I've been wrestling with what it means to move towards integration. I'm asking myself questions like, "How am I currently channelling my own eros?" and "Where do I hope to channel my eros?". I'm examining the elements of the erotic and the spiritual in my own life. I'm gaining new insight with regard to Kierkegaards concept that to be pure in heart is to will one thing. What is the cost of willing one thing? What is the cost of willing many things?

This morning, as I was folding a laundry basket of clothes I saw an interview with Prince Harry on the Today show. Many have commented on how much his character seems to resemble his mothers. Matt Lauer asked him about the "muchness" of his life - his life as a soldier, his royal experiences adorned with tremendous wealth, and his dedication to living a charitable life - and how he is able to live as one person in so many different capacities. Prince Harry responded stating that he often feels as though there are three people living inside of him. Are we all just wrestling for some sort of integration in our lives?

2. My third round of praciticum is stirring things up quite a bit in my life. It is amazing how much you can learn about yourself when you explore with others how your presence affects them and how their presence affects you. My most recent discovery (though it may just be a sort of re-discovery) is that who I am with others is typically determined by my own perception of the needs of others. I either become the person in whom I think I must be in order to serve a need or if I can't assess a need of some sort then I retreat out of fear. If I can fill a need - and by so-doing, become a necessity (or quasi-necessity) to another then I feel safe with them. I presume, then, that if I am useful to another, they will limit the potential harm for which they are capable of causing me. The implications of this pattern of behavior or massive. And anyone who knows of the events in my life, it is not difficult to understand why I have developed this style of relating. I am handling this re-discovery in a manner that feels quite different from my normal masochistic ways. I am not intent on changing how or who I am. I am not punishing myself or tormenting myself for all the ways in which this pattern of behavior has contributed to interpersonal struggles and the absence of true mutuality. Rather, I am simply allowing myself to "be". I am embracing the self-awareness without condemnation. Of course this is how I function in relationship. Somehow just knowing this...and not attempting to force change (which is really not change at all)...is altering how I am. If that's not a paradox then I don't know what is.

3. I watched a movie recently that I was quite disappointed with. Have you seen "The Reader"? Though Kate Winselt and the young boy who star in the film are amazing, the story was quite difficult for me to buy into. I don't won't to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't yet seen it and still plan to watch it at some point so I'll be vague. Aside from the difficulty I had with being convinced of the storyline, the entire movie reflects how isolating life can be when we don't have a place (be that a community, family or significant relationship) to explore our own stories. We need one another to understand our lives - to understand who we are in the context of this great story called life. Without the connection, our lives become wasted and we are merely walking zombies.

That's it for now. I think the jumbledness and the muchness of this post paint an accurate picture of my life right now!

1 comment:

:::No Longer Mute said...

man. that's a lot. to. think. about.