Gratitude Reflection Day 12

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


About Terri C Pilarski

I am an Episcopal priest serving a delightfully progressive, interesting, creative congregation. I have been married more than half my life to the same man. We have two grown children, plus two dogs and two cats, although the number of four legged household members changes from time to time. I love to garden, knit, read, and play on Facebook or with my blog. I have been a practitioner of daily meditation since I was nineteen. I practice yoga five days a week and walk every where I am able too.
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17 Responses to Gratitude Reflection Day 12

  1. What a profound reflection. Thank you for sharing. I have read the Ulanov’s book about prayer but the title escapes me.

  2. Grace thing says:

    I really do think Jung is right about our innate yearning for God. That we were created to be hungry for God. That we are naturally oriented to worship that God when certain moments or experiences awaken us to the reality that only God can fill us. Thanks for this reflection. It is important to be in community with others on a pilgrimage.

  3. Katherine E. says:

    Your post helped me sense the dynamism at play between the individual and the community. Both are so necessary in processing our experiences of God. And, yes, I can understand why you would suffer without a community to welcome and appreciate your depth–as part of this blogging community, I am VERY grateful for the way you often inspire me to reflect more deeply.

  4. Wyldth1ng says:

    I am happy for you and the community.

  5. The big hole yearning for God I can totally relate too. The days I actually remember to include in my morning prayer a request that I be filled with the Holy Spirit today are much better days than when I forget.And I share your gratitude for the blogging community for sure. Though sometime I question whether the real time community I’m in is truly content with form over substance rather than just living defensively at the bombardment of exponentially increasing life minutiae.You speak my language girlfriend. And so very profoundly. Thank you.

  6. Rev. Dulce says:

    Until I started blogging I felt very isolated at my small rural parish. Now I feel connected again and my attitude and outlook have both improved.It is funny that I can be more open with people that I may never see face to face.I was raised in an atheist household and I grew up feeling empty or incomplete. I tried to fill that void with many things..some good and others bad. I never felt complete until I found Christ.

  7. Rev SS says:

    Beautiful post .. your last two paragraphs articulate my past experience so well. I am blessed now to be in a faith community that includes some people who do want to go deeper … and I am so thankful to have that community and this blogging community. Thank you for all your inspirational sharing here.

  8. RevDrKate says:

    You have articulated here so well my experience of this community as well as one I am coming to experience in my “non-virtual” world and how both of them are impacting the development of a deeper sense of authenticity and a deeper spiritual life. Thank you for saying it so well and bringing me back to that sanse of profound gratitude.

  9. mmm bring your mug and come on over…we’ve got some chatting to do!

  10. Kievas says:

    I’ve benefited from this community as well–thank you for being a vital part of it.

  11. mompriest says:

    Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by and reflecting with me today. I appreciate what each of you have offered and am grateful for your thoughts.

  12. the Ulanov book on prayer is “Primary Speech” — and have you read her “Receiving Woman”?

  13. Mother Laura says:

    What they said. I don’t know what I would do without the online faith community that helped give birth to the latest step on my vocational path and helps find a seemingly impossible way to dance along it.

  14. mompriest says:

    CR – thanks for the book references for Ulanov, I’m going to get both of them…laura, amen!

  15. Gannet Girl says:

    Thanks for this ~ you helped me get launched on my own reflections today, which were pretty murky and inarticulate. Night Vision sounds wonderful as well.

  16. Barbara B. says:

    Yes, wonderful post. I want to read “Night Vision” as well…

  17. ann.markle says:

    1. I love the Richardson book.2. Today I preached on the “God-shaped hole,” and how we fill it with addictive behaviors if we choose not to fill it with God, or the longing for God.3. I love Ann Ulanov. Before the end of the year I will be reading “Religion and the Spiritual in Carl Jung.” I read “Primary Speech” 2 years ago, and it blew me away.Your post resonated in many ways.

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