As you know, I'm convinced that a true spiritual master is someone who shares his or her human struggles and frustrations, and then offers the tools they've found for resolving or living with those struggles. It's definitely not the standard guru-model which would present us with a person who "has it all together."
During today's snowshoe hike, I found myself pondering what occurs in social media whenever I make a conscious effort NOT to say things perfectly - in other words, when I express my humanity - a stance which then empowers readers to CORRECT my views. It's really quite fascinating. One person critiqued my use of the phrase "defend myself." Another read the post about my recently diagnosed heart disease and my own resulting angst and said: "Do you fear death? I don't." Another felt led to mention "your miraculous healing that is occurring even now." Yet another critiqued my post on the university system's disrespectful attitude toward adjunct professors as contrasted with the honorable way full-time faculty are treated, and declared: "It is NOT spiritual to compare!"
Today while hiking in a snowstorm as I wrestled with the uncomfortable feeling these sorts of comments can bring, an epiphany suddenly hit me. "This is exactly how GOD - the Beloved - feels," I heard an inner voice advise. And indeed, this is true. When our Source grips us with questions or doubts about the meaning of life - which is exactly what happens when we mistakenly think that our questions have their ultimate source within ourselves - WE, like Facebook readers, then feel empowered to remedy the situation: to answer the questions, to work diligently to find theological or philosophical solutions, or even haughtily to inform the God disguised and hidden within us that "You SHOULDN'T feel this way!"
This is the "poor" and "foolish" God that Franciscans and others pray to, the God who is hungry for our love and who frequently feels lonely or rejected. How profound and healing is this realization! What an amazing thing it is to intuit that our own feelings of foolishness and vulnerability offer us a window into the foolishness and vulnerability GOD feels. Accordingly, Richard Rohr puts it this way:
"God is a real fool, of sorts . . . The fate of God, it seems, is to be poor, to be given and not received, to fail. We share in the eternal fate of God: not to succeed, to be poor and often to look foolish and defenseless. Such is the fate of God . . . In the pain of being rejected, in the pain of non-union, we come to know how God loves and therefore needs. Good theologians don’t want to apply the word 'need' to God. But I think that somehow God has created a world in which, in a certain sense, God needs."
May each of us discover the grace to relish being an embodiment of "the foolishness of God."
Photo: Limber pine and peaks, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, March 7, 2016
For Spiritual Direction or Workshops, please visit: http://www.resourcesforspiritualgrowth.com/
Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.