LEARNING is the secret to the spirituality of life. There’s no spirituality apart from learning, and such grounded humility leaps off the page from the following quote:
“Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”
— Meister Eckhart (1259–1327)
Many times I’ve gone to mentors, frantic, with a grappling torment that I’m not good enough, that the problems I have are too big for me to bear. Occasionally I’ve wanted to take flight. More than once I’d have been satisfied to run away. Not in circumstances of my grief over our recent loss of Nathanael, but certainly over others’ perceptions of me and over my own perception of how well or not I do my work. And as these struggles manifest within my spirituality, God invites me into himself through resilience.
Resilience and spirituality are intrinsically linked. That’s what the German philosopher and mystic deduced. They may be one and the same.
As we sink the skin of our senses in the Eckhart quote, wincing in the fact of our difficulties, we know there’s therapy in it — a horrible yet nonetheless helpful therapy. We cannot run away. We dare not walk away. And we cannot withdraw from life. But we’re blessed by wrestling with… wait for it… the learning of an inner solitude… that, will hold us.
Learning an inner solitude by the sustenance of prayer is acquiring a resilient spirituality that will never fail us.
Not Walking Away, Nor Hiding Within, But Walking Through
If we acknowledge there are three ways of reacting to life, and only one of those is viable to health, we’ll also acknowledge what gets us there: our spirituality that wrestles with our truth.
When we resist walking away — not allowing ourselves that ‘out’ — and we also resist withdrawing from life — shrinking into ourselves, away from life — we have only one other way.
Another thing we must not do is react in our emotion to confront the difficulty full-on, i.e. in aggression.
The way we walk on through the entirety of the battle is by pressing-in on God in the midst of the battle. This process of pressing-in is actively embracing the struggle — entering into it — and, whilst we’re there — finding where God is. God is everywhere.
God is there. He’s there in the struggle, in the fight, in the misery of it all, and in the despair. Not part of it, but in it. He’s there to help and God’s Presence can never hinder. But we must be willing to engage with the truth woven into our realities.
Committing to walk on through our struggles to the bitter end is the only way to overcome them. And focusing on what’s being learned is a healthy outlook when nothing else convinces us that the struggle is worth enduring.
What we learn in walking through our struggles is a vibrant and an effectual spirituality.
Spirituality is learned in struggle as spirituality is the empowerment tantamount to triumph.
The votes are in: in struggle, go spiritual.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.