Skip to main content

knives


This is part of a journal assignment for a course, Christian Spirituality, I am taking this term at Concordia University.

For one who has been on a spiritual journey since a very young age, I thought that a course on Christian Spirituality would be a rather undemanding exercise. How quickly I forget that a commitment to lifelong learning and maturing means that every day I see again how far I still have to go. In the course of this week I have felt incredibly intelligent and mature as well as fragilely stupid and incompetent. Each day that I ask the question, "God, what are you doing?" I am surprised by the honest participation and submission the answer requires of me, and the presence of both an "aching pain" and a "delicious hope."

The key word that Rolheiser uses to describe spirituality in the first part of his book, The Holy Longing, strikes very close to home. Desire has not been an active part of my vocabulary for much of my life. Having been raised in a rather conservative and restrictive religious environment, I see my past illustrated in his explanation of the divorce between religion and eros. Desire is not a dirty word, yet for much of my life I have embraced fear instead, believing that it was the safer of the two choices. How wrong I have been. Fear stymies all attempts of love to break into my life, and its accompanying paralysis does a pretty darn good impersonation of death.

I am still learning what a wondrously passionate person I am, filled with desires so strong and fiery that I sometimes singe myself and my surroundings with immature thrusts of their power. And yet, I dare not retreat back into the world of fear.

We bought a new set of kitchen knives from a gift certificate we received for Christmas. The old set of blades were cheap and dull and required a lot of pressure to perform their task, so we figured it was time to get a good quality set. The new steel tools are nothing like the old blades and seem to play by a whole different set of rules. Suddenly, I am handling sharp and well-made instruments and I don't quite know how to manage them. I have already sliced my thumb once and feel like a child who is cutting with scissors for the first time: everything seems awkward and crooked and badly executed. I realise that I have to develop a new, more precise set of skills to work with these much more sophisticated and powerful tools. And so it is with passion or desire.

It has been easy to live with a certain dullness and safeness in my life, but that is not what this powerful gift of life is for. I am saying yes to passion every day of my life. I am willing to learn the skills needed to wield this God-given energy in a mature and skilful way. And I am not afraid of a few cuts along the way.

References are from The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser (New York: Doubleday, 1999)

This is a photo of me handling an even more powerful tool at the shooting range last weekend.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…

job hunting

I am on the hunt for a job. PhD in hand, I am a theologian for hire. The thing is, not a lot of places are hiring theologians these days, and if they are, they are usually looking for scholars with skills and experience outside my area of expertise. Today I found job opportunities for those knowledgeable in Religion, Race, and Colonialism, Philosophy and History of Religion, Islam and Society, Languages of Late Antiquity, Religion, Ethics, and Politics, and an ad for a Molecular Genetic Pathologist. Not one posting for a Dramatic Theologian with  a side order of Spirituality and a dash of Methodology.

I know, I know. My expectations are a bit unrealistic if I believe I will find an exact match for my particular skills. I know that job descriptions are wish lists to some extent, so no candidate is ever a perfect match. I also realize that one must adapt one's skill set according to the requirements of the job and be flexible. But there are so few jobs which come within ten or even…

lessons from a theological memoir and a television series about lawyers

It's a hot Wednesday afternoon, so let's talk about false binaries. Basically, a false binary or false dichotomy happens when a person's options are artificially limited to two choices, thereby excluding all other possibilities. Insisting on the limited choice of either A or B leaves no room for middle ground or another, more creative solution. In other words, a false binary assumes the rest of the alphabet (after A and B) does not exist.

Binary thinking is quite prevalent in our society. Either you are for me or against me. Either you are guilty or innocent. Either you are a Democrat or a Republican, conservative or liberal. Either you are a Christian or a pagan. Either you are all in or all out. Admittedly, it is convenient to see things as either black or white, but we live in a multi-coloured world and not everything fits neatly into two categories. This is why insisting there are only two choices when, in fact, other options exist, is labeled as a fallacy in logic an…