How do we do it? No recipes allowed! We do it by faithfully refusing to faithfully take instruction or follow directions, including this directive to not follow directions. “Listen to me,” he said, saying, “Don’t listen to me!” Or, anyone else! Don’t take anyone’s word for it! Figure it out for yourself. Make it up as you go along.
Somebody else’s path is somebody else’s path. It isn’t your path. How can you be true to yourself and walk their path? How can you find your way by walking their way? Where do you think the ways, the paths, lead, anyway? They lead to YOUR heart, that’s where. They lead to YOUR “beam,” to the life that is YOUR’s to live. To the life with YOUR name on it. What good is a way that leads you to somebody else’s life? You should be searching for a way that leads to YOU.
We keep hearing, and perhaps, repeating, the phrase, “There are many ways up the mountain, but there is ONE mountain.” The implication is that God is THE mountain, that all paths lead to God, that God is THE core, or center, or ground, which draws all people to God. No matter how many ways there are of representing God, or expressing God, or understanding God, or saying who and how God is, and isn’t, and not matter how different, or even, mutually exclusive those ways are, there is, nevertheless, ONE God referenced by all of these various ways.
We might believe that one approach is as good as another, and that all approaches work equally well in leading us to God and connecting us with God. Or, we might believe that some approaches are better than others, and that some are downright stupid, and others are dangerously harmful, not only to one’s search for God, but also to one’s spiritual, and emotional, and perhaps even, physical wellbeing. But, we like to believe that, in the end, no matter what, we are all working toward the same goal, just taking different routes to the same destination, and that we will all wind up “in God,” “at God,” “with God” sooner or later. Well phooey on all that!
Listen carefully now. I don’t want you to miss this. God is the PROCESS, not the goal, not the outcome, not the destination. God is not the end, the center, the core, the mountain. God is the manner in which we conduct ourselves as we wander around searching for God. God is the HOW, not the WHO or the WHAT! If we want to find God, we have to live in Godly ways. If we want to be “in God,” or “with God,” we have to “be as God is” starting right now.
Of course, there is a catch. Two catches, actually. The first catch has to do with our search for the path that leads to ourselves, for the life that is ours to live. We cannot find the way alone. The other catch has to do with how we conduct the search. We have to look for the path as God would look for the path. But, we cannot practice godliness alone. We need one another to find ourselves. And, we need one another to practice being God in the world.
It takes all of us. That’s one of the 10,000 spiritual laws. It takes all of us to ground us, center us, focus us, keep us going, and keep us from “flying off the handle,” and “chasing wild geese,” and “following red herrings,” and “going nowhere fast.” It takes all of us to wake us up and enable us to be aware and alive. The rest of us force discipline upon us and require accountability of us. We cannot live any old way at all and be true to ourselves, and be as God is.
We pay a price for being true to ourselves, and, for being as God is, and without the rest of us around, we wouldn’t have what it takes to hand over the fare. We pay a price for being who we are, who God is. Jesus went to the cross for being who he was, for being who God is. There you are. Crosses of some variety wait for us all. The burden of being who we are, and who God is, within the context and circumstances of our lives is the cross we bear. How are you going to be you, and being who God is, doing what you do, living the life that is truly yours to live, the way God would do it, live it, within the context and circumstances of your life? It takes all of us to help you answer that one. You cannot do it alone. Do not even try.
It is the hardest thing you will ever do, paying the price to be who you are, to be as God is. Without the rest of us with you, you would quit immediately. “What’s in this for me?”, you would ask. “What am I getting out of all this? When is it going to be my turn?” You need us around to remind you that what we get out of it is that we get to be ourselves. We get to be as God is. We get to be who we are, as God is, within the context and circumstances of our lives. That’s what we get.
The catch is that we can only become who we are, as God is, in the company of the right kind of people. The company of the right kind of people is God to us. And, they enable us to be as God is—to search for the way to be who we are as God would do it. We incarnate God in the search for ourselves.
But, all of this hinges on two things: 1) Will we submit to the discernment and wisdom of, call it “the Body of Christ”? And, 2) as the Body of Christ, will we, conscientiously and consciously, make every effort to be discerning and wise, not using our power for manipulation and control? We have to be good for one another. We help one another toward discernment and wisdom, toward awakening and awareness, toward understanding and peace, toward compassion and right living. Everything hangs on our finding, and being the right kind of company.
I suggest that we look for, and work to create, the following in our search to find and be the right kind of company. I suggest that we look for an orientation, a spirit, that acknowledges and affirms us, our lives, and life itself. That does not attempt to separate us from ourselves, or from our lives, or from life itself. That helps us see into the heart of things, and recognize how things are, and how things also are, and keeps us company as we decide what we will do in response to it, without telling us what to do. That listens. That answers our questions out of its own experience, out of its own heart. and not out of some storehouse of doctrines, or platitudes, or formulas. That recognizes itself as “a process of discernment and wisdom,” that is becoming increasingly discerning and wise, but does not, itself, have the answers, or, even, a clue about how it is supposed to be done, but loves the quest and delights in the dance, and walks with us joyfully along the way.
The right kind of company knows that we bring God to life in the way we look for God. It understands that if we want to know God we have to live as becomes God. It sees that if we are going to take up any spiritual practice it must be the practice of compassion, and justice, and kindness, and gentleness, and patience, and acceptance, and peace. It must be the practice of letting God come to life in us, and through us, in all our relationships, and into all the world. It must be the practice of being God in the way we live our lives.