“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” The Bible
THOUGHTS FROM LISBON, JUNE 2022
I read this morning of the creativity of writing. The author suggested writing with no purpose (like a book), but just writing for the sake of writing. Let the creativity flow in whatever direction it chooses.
Religion or Spirituality?
My concern this morning has to do with the subject of my new book which seems to have morphed from a contemplation on the mystics to treatise on “spirituality.” Although the church in the West is experiencing a serious decline, that does not mean that the general population is not asking important questions about their inner lives regarding spirituality and the meaning of life.
Now, this is certainly “a first world problem” but that doesn’t lessen the need for millions of people in search of something more important than just making money, buying shit, marrying, and raising children to live the same active, but somewhat hollow lives. So off they go experimenting with yoga, meditation, mindfulness, sacred present, deep relationships and maybe even something sacred of divine. But, not religious searches. Religion seems to have failed to reach the heart of America’s youth: perhaps it has to do with too many rules and behavioral expectations that lead to little, if any, fulfillment.
A Prophesy: Hunger for Pleasure
What then do I, as a Christian in pursuit of Christian mysticism, have to offer multi-generations of people in search of depth and purpose? I believe it was the prophet Amos who wrote something like, “In that day people will be so hungry for words from God that they won’t even know what they are hungry for.” And that, to me, is the state of our world today.
Perhaps I may begin the new book with thoughts on God’s desire for pleasure from his Creation. As the Book of Common Prayer says, “O Lord, in your infinite love you created us for your pleasure…”
Where do we find such preaching in a Christian community more interested in memorizations, confessions of faith, Bible study, intercessory prayer, church attendance and tithing money? Where do we find it? We find it in the medieval Christian mystics who were concerned with only one thing: intimacy with God—a loving intimacy that yearns for God as much as God yearns for the love of his creation.
A Life Without Rules
Are there rules for intimacy? No! Are there behaviors that can enhance intimacy? Of course. Are there behaviors that can earn God’s love and intimacy? Well, not really. That is the role of grace (a whole ‘nother topic).
What then are we to do with the divine gift of the Fruit of the Spirit? Yes, these are behaviors that offer pleasure to the giver and pleasure to the divine Source. It is essential to understand that these behaviors in no way “earn” God’s love. Instead, they are merely expressions of a reality that is already dwelling inside creatures formed in the “image of God.”
The Fruit of the Spirit represents loving actions initiated by the Spirit of God and not actions to gain approval. They are actions of pleasure: the pleasure of kindness, service, and charity to a world in need of “meaning-filled” advocates of a Divine Creator.
And so I am left with creative writing—my way of processing thoughts of the Divine and what it means to live a life of meaning.