I’m done with “spiritual formation.”
I’m over it and you should be, too. Let me explain.
In much of the evangelicalism, “spiritual formation” is only an veiled way of referring to disciplines or practices intended to be undertaken by an individual for the sake of the individual. This compartmentalization of faith, this dualism, must stop.
We are not fleshy creatures housing an eternal soul. We are not earthen vessels containing precious nard. We are not organic matter with a spirit center. We are much more. We are an unimaginable tapestry of body-soul-spirit. We are the result of God, Spirit, and Christ Play-Dohs all mixed together. We are human.
We need to stop deluding ourselves into thinking that we can somehow work on our “spiritual life” without it radically impacting every other facet how we live. Jesus didn’t walk around on this earth to show us how to be more spiritual. Jesus came to who us how to be more fully human.
I’m not averse to language which attempts to articulate the difference between our actions and the source of those actions. With my Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters, I affirm that we can speak of the “interior life,” but not without also speaking in the same breath of the exterior life. Any work we do on the inner person must also be evidenced in the outer person.
The examples of monastics, the desert fathers and mothers, the hermits, are not the norm. Nor are they some kind of superChristians to which we are all to aspire. Their lives are inspirational hyperbole; metaphors that vividly point out things we tend to overlook in our own lives.
With all that in mind:
I’m saying goodbye to prayer that seeks my wellbeing without also seeking the wellbeing of others.
I’m finished with silence that does not include deep listening to others.
I’m over solitude that doesn’t make me crave immersion back into my community.
I’m done with charity that keeps me at arm’s length from the charitable.
I’m dropping meditation that doesn’t make me one with my neighbor.
I’m through with simplicity that doesn’t lead to more complexity in my relationships.
I’m leaving behind any worship that encourages me to consume it rather than being consumed by it.
I will pursue ordinary community, not sitcom fantasy.
I will observe ordinary time, not the consumer calendar.
I will commit myself to “monking in the real world,” not upward mobility.
I will orient all my liturgical practices toward transformation for the sake of others.
Won’t you join me? Together, let us pursue being more wholly formed, more fully human.