Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Deep Desire

"It sounds to me, Jared, that you have such a deep desire for union with God."

I'd never quite had that said to me, I think, at any other time in my life. So when my new spiritual director said it at our first meeting, it struck me as strange. I've been pondering ever since yesterday why that is.

Why would it be strange to desire union with the divine? I know theologically—and have known for years now—that this is one of the descriptions of the telos or goal of life, reunion with the divine. In some traditions it's called the Beatific Vision. In other traditions, it is a part of the doctrine of Theosis. In patristic and mystical theology, union with God is the third of the three states of being. The first state is the purgative way, then the illuminative way, then the unitive way. Each leads into the other as we are drawn further into the divine life.

And while the fancy theology surrounding all that might not always be on the tip of every Christian's tongue, wouldn't it be rather normal to say that every Christian has a desire for union with God?

Why was I surprised by my director's comment? I'm a priest, of course I have a deep desire for union with God. Really, doesn't every Christian, regardless of order?

But after talking with her about my journey, after sharing my experiences with God and my hopes for my own spiritual life as a Christian and as a priest, when at the end of all of that she said this thing to me, this articulation of what she perceived as my deep desire. Well, it surprised me. It seemed... like such a.... kind thing to say.

So often all we do is focus on our failings, on the things that we have created, the barriers we build between God and each other. We rehearse and remember each tripping step in our journey and it take someone else to point out that even with all the trips and falls, we still seem be slogging up the mountain with great determination.

I do. I do have a profoundly deep desire for union with God.

My soul wants to be home.

And it makes me wonder, is the telos of parish ministry union with God? Is the goal of worship, faith formation, preaching, administration, pastoral care—all the bits and pieces that make up priestly ministry—is the goal of each of those actions union with God, helping others along the way to union with God?

At times it may be purgative, as we seek to open ourselves to the painful cleaning away of the sickness within. At times it may be illuminative, as we seek to come to greater realization of the voice of God in our lives. But in the end, does it all have a unitive end?

I think it probably should.

Because I doubt I'm the only one whose soul wants to be home.

And I doubt I'm the only one who can sometimes use the excess of activity (the excess of the activities described above) as a flurry of motion to occupy my mind... so that I don't think of the gaping God-shaped void within me that still is longing to be filled.

Almost three decades in Christian community, my whole life, and yet the hole is still there.

And sometimes it hurts something awful. 

"It sounds to me, Jared, that you have such a deep desire for union with God. Let's talk about that," my director said to me.

Yes. Let's do that.

1 comment:

  1. You are not alone. Many desire to be 'home.' That is very legit.

    Let's talk about it.