Where is the movement in our lives? Where is the flow? Going with the flow on one level means going against the flow on another level. To assist one thing is to resist another. What are we assisting? Resisting? In what direction do our inclinations lie? What is keeping us from following them? What is urging us to follow them? Where do we think we would be better off—following, or not?
Our lives take shape around what? Our existence is organized by what? We live toward what? What is the core around which we coalesce? The foundation without which “we” disintegrate, and drift into mindlessness and chaos? What is the nature of our integrity? The forming principle of our lives?
I’m going to call my core element “awakening,” until a better idea comes along. I am here to wake up and to wake others up. I am an “awakening agent.” The ebb and flow of awakening is engagement and detachment. The movement is from extroversion to introversion to extroversion. I go in that I may go out. Experience has to be processed, absorbed, considered, articulated in order for it to be integrated. We have to say what we have seen, and felt, and done in order to wake up to the experience of life, incorporate that experience into conscious awareness, and live knowingly, mindfully, in the world.
The ground of healing, of wholeness, of completion, of fulfillment, of oneness with ourselves, with our core “element,” is wakefulness, awareness, mindful knowing. In order to be fully, wholly, alive, we must live with integrity-of-being—we must live in ways that are integrated with, integral to, “that which is deepest, best, and truest about us,” with who we are at the core. We get to the core by waking up to “what makes us tick.” Then, we devote our lives to the service of the core—as if we have a choice!
To live well, we have to wake up to what life consists of for us, to what brings us to life, fills us with life, makes us alive. For me, it is the process of waking up, and waking others up. The process of waking up is the process of processing our experience, of articulating the impact of experience, of saying what happened, and what we did in response, and how we felt, and what we make of it now that we think about it. It is the process of developing a perspective that takes itself into account, of seeing in a way that allows us to see our seeing, and question our assumptions, and live experimentally, experientially—not merely repeating the past, but bridging the past with a future full of possibilities via a present of mindful awareness.
The church thinks it is about God—talking about God, explaining God, proclaiming God, serving God, worshiping God, making God happy. Joseph’s brothers thought they were about getting rid of Joseph. The church can’t imagine being the church without God. Joseph’s brothers couldn’t imagine living with Joseph. So, the church says, “God, God, God, God, God…”, and Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph. The joke is squarely on the church and the brothers.
The church does not bring God to life by concentrating on God. The brothers don’t disappear Joseph by sending him away with the caravan. What is the church without God? Without God, the church is waking up. Stretching, yawning, seeing for the first time the way to life. God. God without the doctrines and the dogma and the system and the structure. Life. Truth. Beauty. Hope (not optimism!). Peace. Love. Joy (not happiness). God.
We are surrounded in every moment, well, okay, we encounter every day, evidence of grace. Don’t leap from the experience to the explanation, which becomes doctrine, which becomes dogma. Simply process the experience. Simply allow yourself to shut-up and be wowed. Don’t say what it means. Say what it means to not know what it means. And laugh. And let yourself be kissed by God beyond the doctrines and dogma. And know the God beyond understanding and explanation.