Yesterday I reflected on desire, spurred by my daily reading of Jan Richardson’s book, “Night Vision.” It is a beautiful reflection book for the season. But since then I have been thinking about desire. What does my heart desire? What does my soul desire? Are they the same things? Yesterday’s reflection included a quote from Janet Morley who spoke about integrating our desires, that ultimately they all come fromo one source.
I’ve often preached on that same idea. I’ve gone at it from a slightly different perspective, the idea that we all have this big empty hole in us. Born that way. And in our lives we work to fill that emptiness. Sometimes we try to fill it with stuff. Sometimes we try to fill it with work. Sometimes we try to fill it with food, alcohol, or sex. Trying to fill it with all those things is ok, except that these things are not what the emptiness desires. Because these are not what the emptiness desires we are left feeling hungry, craving to be satisfied. An unhealthy cycle can be put in place, of craving, filling, being unsatisfied, and ultimately feeling depressed and worn. Like eating a life time of an unhealthy diet.
I first began thinking about this after reading Carl Jung. He speaks about the emptiness as a yearning for God. I believe he says we are born with an inate desire for God. We just don’t always recognize it. Sometimes people push God away and stuff even more of those other things into the emptiness, a gluttony of stuffing that leaves one empty. Jung’s research determined that half the people fell “ill” (neurosis or psychosis) because they lost the meaning of life. This is particularly true in our world that has lost the potency and meaning of religious language and lack the power of religious doctrine to inform our lives. This means that we do not have a language to articulate our experiences of God, God’s desire for us, and our desire for God. Eventually, hopefully, we finally realize that what we really desire is God. (Cambridge Companion to Jung, Chap. 15, Jung and Religion: the opposing self, by Ann Ulanov).
I need to read Ulanov’s chapter again, it’s interesting. In part she says the role of religion is to help us integrate our individual experiences of God into a collective experience of God. Community is where we are able to really digest our experiences of God. And the process of bringing our individual experiences into community then serves to build new community. Healing comes when people are able to connect the yearning with that which really satisfies – a life whose meaning is grounded in God’s desire for us, our desire for God, and our ability to process that through a shared life in community.
I think this one reason why I suffered so deeply last year and why I feel so much better this year. I suffered from lack of community in which to process my experiences of God. My parish really seems disinterested in any kind of real depth. They live their lives in, at least by my desires, a superficial realm. I can’t seem to inspire them to go deeper. They are content enough. But I was not. I wanted more.
Blogging has opened up to me a community of people who are also seeking to know God and to share that knowledge with others or to process the experiences in order to know God more fully. Sigh. I sometimes feel like I am very repetitive with this. But today I am once again grateful for this blogging community. A place where my (our) desires for God can be