Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When I Grow Up I Wanna Be a Mystic

I don't know what to call myself when the conversation turns spiritual.

Which--to be accurate--it rarely does and I really miss that about my community back home. It was something we talked about, thought about. But, if anything, the topic comes up by way of introductions or passing questions, like: "Are you religious person?" or "Can you come on Sunday or are you a church-y person?"

I don't know what to call myself.

Am I a Christian?
Am I a Seventh-day Adventist?

And I don't know if I really care either. This only matters for the purpose of labeling. Of putting people in categories so that we can feel more comfortable with who we are. With where we stand. So, lately, I've been asking myself: What kind of person do I want to be? And I'm pretty sure I want to be a mystic.

  1. 1.
    a person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect.

Plainly speaking: 
I want to be thoughtful and calm.
In a place that makes me most accessible to the Divine.

This has been on my mind most recently because I listened to a pod cast called "You Made It Weird" with Pete Holmes and he interviews Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, that I had never heard of until this week. (Thanks, Bob Evans!) And while I find the pod cast host to be a little...needy, Rohr is "the man" and I'm excited to read some of his books.

Here are some main points from the conversation:

  • There are not only Christians and non-Christians in this world. There is a whole banquet of religions, faiths, and ways of thinking about the world and how we came to be who we are. Limiting faith communities to just snobby, hypocritical, old people is unfair and untrue. There are vibrant faith communities all over the world and they all matter.
  • Dualistic thinking (a.k.a. black/white) destroys everything in its path. It seeks to put people and groups of people and cultures and ideas into neat little boxes with which no one belongs in. It creates "us" and "them". It make us feel really good about ourselves, but is faulty and broken.
  • The contemplative way of thinking seeks to let things be without my own damn analysis. That person over there is not "good" or "bad" or "right" or "wrong" or "evil" or anything. They are just a person and my judgement is not important. Only quiet contemplation allows us to just "be" with people instead of analyzing them.

  • The spiritual journey can be broken down into three major phases:
  • Construction, Deconstruction, and Reconstruction
  • "The problem with conservatives is they get stuck in construction." They tend to build up a sturdy foundation and then spend their time defending and protecting it from everyone else. 
  • "The problem with liberals is they get stuck in deconstruction." They take apart the pieces and look closely at each and every facet, but never reassemble it into something whole.
  • "Reconstruction is where mystics live. It's the process of having a solid belief system, questioning it, and building something uniquely our own. Something whole and holy." It means accepting what's happening as if you chose it. 

  • Rohr says, "The mind can do two things: worry about the future and endlessly reprocess the past. Neither make you happy."
  • Holmes says, "We've homogenized and pasteurized faith into after-life insurance or an evacuation plan for the next world. What a waste of time. And the least compelling story there's ever been."
  • And dualistic thinking has turned faith into a win/lose scenario. You are in or you are out. You are good or you are bad. Rohr quips that this works out very well for the men who created it because some can be quite competitive: "Is it any accident that it was males preaching the gospel until the last thirty years? It was an exclusive domain of males so we took the great Good News announcing freedom and life and joy (present tense) for the world and we made it into a giant win-lose contest. At which--by our own descriptions--almost everybody lost. Now why anybody would buy that? That's not Good News folks!"

If there's one thing I found most intriguing about the pod cast it is this: My fundamentalist upbringing wasn't a stumbling block on my way to truth. It was a necessary stepping stone from which I built on.


I've spent the last few years casting a lot of blame on people and a system that felt limiting. That felt unfair and untrue. That felt sterile and unwilling to ask questions. But now, I'm considering that without that foundation--imperfect as it may be--I probably wouldn't be here now.
Asking questions.
Seeking answers.
Opening to whatever Life has to teach me.

It was all part of the process of becoming.
I've constructed.
I'm working through the deconstruction. 
Moving forward.

I want more Good News.
I want freedom and life and joy.
I want to look people in the eye without putting them in categories for my own enjoyment.
I want to practice mindfulness in a way that allows me to be here. Now.