As I’ve gotten older I’ve become aware that over stretches of time—longer than I might have realized—I had lost track of certain disciplines that were helpful to my health and maturation. Then, one day (or more likely, in the middle of the night) it occurs that this is the case. Small examples might involve diet and exercise. How many different patterns have come and gone?! In the main, I know what’s in my best interest, but when the realization fully pops into view I recognize that there has been an accrual of behaviors that need to be jettisoned in favor of the healthy disciplines. A space needs to be created for a new pattern to take hold—a letting go and a taking on, if you will.
What’s true in these more mundane matters sharpens in more important realms, like our spiritual advancement for instance. Writing about the nature of mature love St. Paul famously said, “When I was a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult I put an end to childish ways.” The point being that some old behaviors needed to end if some new ones were to be embraced—a letting go and a taking on. And that requires intentional decision and action. Do we want to grow up or not? Do we want to advance in our capacity for mature love, or not? Will we let go of the lesser thing, so that we might take on the greater?
I recently came across this reflection by M. Scott Peck, author of the now classic The Road Less Traveled, as he considered the process for spiritual advancement:
“We cannot create ourselves any more than we can create an iris or a simple rose petal. We are creatures—meaning that God is our original and ongoing creator. What we can do, however, is to cooperate with God in the process of our ongoing creation… For the fullest extent it is required that we become conscious: conscious of God; conscious of our personal relationship with God; conscious of our souls; conscious of how we may interfere with God’s deepest desire for our unique destinies. Such consciousness comes only with adulthood.
“If it comes at all. Most largely ignore God. Many others run away from God. This is understandable. As the author of the epistle to the Hebrews said, ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’
“Still, it must be done if we are to become whole. We must become prayerful creatures to be fully effective co-creators…”
Becoming prayerful creatures requires intentional decision and action.
I’ll leave it there for now because the can of Pringles beckons…. (just kidding…)
The Reverend Dr. Stephen Bauman