Spirituality of Imperfection: Week 2
The Great Turnaround
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
In the divine economy of grace, it is imperfection, sin, and failure that become the base metal and raw material for the redemption experience itself. Much of organized religion, however, tends to be peopled by folks who have a mania for some ideal order, which is never true, so they seldom are happy or content. This focus on perfection makes you anal retentive, to use Freud’s rude phrase, because you can never be happy with life as it is. Real life is filled with people who are disabled (if you live long enough, you too will inevitably be “disabled” in some way), people with mental illness, people who practice other customs or religions, and people who experience their sexuality differently than you do. Organized religion has not been known for its inclusiveness or for being very comfortable with diversity. Yet pluriformity, multiplicity, and diversity is the only world there is! It is rather amazing that we can miss, deny, or ignore what is in plain sight everywhere. Even in nature, we are confounded by wildness and seek to bring the “frontier,” farms, and gardens into uniformity.
Sin and salvation are correlative terms. Salvation is not sin perfectly avoided, as the ego would prefer; but in fact, salvation is sin turned on its head and used in our favor. This is how divine love transforms us. If this is not true, what hope is there for any of us? We eventually discover that the same passion which leads us away from God can also lead us back to God and to our true selves. That is one reason I have valued and taught the Enneagram. Like few other spiritual tools, it illustrates this transformative truth. Once you see that your “sin” and your gift are two sides of the same coin, you can never forget it.
God seems to be about “turning” our loves around (in Greek, meta-noia), and using them toward the Great Love that is their true object. All lesser loves are training wheels, which are good in themselves, but still training wheels. Many of the healing stories in the New Testament are rather clear illustrations of this message and pattern. Jesus says this specifically of “the woman who was a sinner”: “Her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she could not have shown such great love” (Luke 7:47). It seems that her false attempts at love became the school and stepping-stones to “such great love.”
Gateway to Silence:
When I am weak I am strong.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 60-61.