Rev. Meredith Garmon
Maybe. I offer no guarantees.
Spiritual strengthening doesn’t go like muscle strengthening does. Spiritual maturity is not a reliable product of putting in the time doing the exercise. The spirit has its own schedule. Committed serious spiritual practitioners can go for years when their practice just seems void and useless. Then they can hit a patch where they seem to be regressing. They’re acting as cranky, unkind, disconnected -- as withdrawn, on the one hand, or as controlling, on the other – as they ever had before they started any spiritual practice. There is no smooth curve of progress.
The Worst Motive
I started my primary spiritual practice for the worst reason: because an authority told me to. Fourteen-and-a-half years ago I was in Chicago trying to pass muster to become a minister, trying to prove I was good enough. I had just finished my first year of divinity school, and I was meeting with the Midwest regional subcommittee on candidacy.
“Get a spiritual practice,” the committee told me.
It is contradictory to take up a path of self-acceptance and trusting in my own inner wisdom because an outside authority told me to. Yet that’s what I did. It is contradictory to judge myself for judging myself too much. Yet that’s what I did, and still do, albeit somewhat more gently. Usually. I’ve now had a chance to talk with a number of people on a path of serious spiritual practice. All of us, or so it seems, began, as I did, in some form of contradiction. We felt broken, wrong, inadequate, and we thought spiritual practice would fix us. But spiritual practice isn’t about fixing anything – which is why there’s no smooth curve toward becoming fixed.
You're Not Broken and Don't Need Fixing
Spiritual awakening is about realizing that we aren’t broke and don’t need fixing. We aren’t broken and from the beginning never have been. It’s true that spiritual deepening does bring about some changes – but there isn’t any single change that it always brings about. And these changes are not the goals of spiritual practice. Any practice that has a goal is not a spiritual practice. Yes, there is a role to play for intending to cultivate the spiritual qualities -- but it is a rather small role, and attempting to measure progress toward such qualities is delusion. A spiritual practice will tend -- naturally, on its own, but irregularly and unpredictably -- to bring fuller recognition that we are not broken, that we are whole and perfect just as we are and always have been; and fuller recognition of our intrinsic wholeness will tend -- naturally, on its own, but irregularly and unpredictably -- to bring the symptoms of developing spirituality.
It’s hard to really believe that we are not broken and don't need fixing. Our culture constantly tells us we aren’t good enough, get better, buy this product, this treatment, this school, this exercise, this method.
Spirituality is about remembering the fact of abundance in the midst of the daily barrage of messages of scarcity. Will recognition of abundance happen if you do the practice? I can tell you there will be more ups and downs than the stock market. But over the long haul? Probably, yes. If you love just doing the practice, and you do it just because it is who you are, and not with any idea that you’re gaining something from it – if judgment about gain and loss, progress and regress, falls away and there’s just you, loving who you are and loving the way you, and the whole universe, manifest in and through your practice, then, yes. The fact of abundance will be clearer to you.
In the film’s most memorable shot, Slim Pickens is waving his cowboy hat and whooping as he rides the bomb down to his – and what will ultimately be the planet’s – destruction.
Maybe that’s what learning to stop worrying and love the bomb looks like. He does seem to be living in the moment.
That was such a striking shot when I first saw it because I knew if I were falling out of the sky riding on a nuclear bomb, I’d be freaked out in fear and despair: “My god, my god, my god, I’ve only got maybe one minute to live.”
But look at what Slim Pickens’ character is doing with his minute! Woooo-hooooo.
All of us are riding that bomb. Our time is so short before life blows up on us.
There’s something very pure about this – just one chance at every minute. This is it.
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