Saturday, January 14, 2006

Authentic Spirituality

Spirituality is the relationship between us and our Creator. Since God fashioned us in His own image, we come to know ourselves by knowing the One in whose image we have been made. Through our relationship with Him, God transforms us into a more perfect reflection of Himself. By relinquishing our own self-centeredness so that we may commune with Him, we grow into spiritual maturity and bring all aspects of our being and life under the influence of the Spirit.

The goal of spirituality is theosis. To attain theosis is to perfectly reflect, as a polished mirror, the divine image and likeness of God, and to live in constant intimate communion with the Spirit, the source of all purity, love, harmony, wholeness, happiness, meaning, and every other good and perfect thing. Theosis allows one’s own being and life to shine with the radiance of divine light. This is true enlightenment, illumination by the knowledge and presence of God.

Theosis is the fulfillment of our human potential. Since we have drifted away from God, the source of Life and Light, and have descended into spiritual darkness, corruption, and chaos, the goal of spirituality is to become truly human, as God created us to be. When we reach theosis and our human nature is restored to its intended glory, we are fit for dwelling in Paradise, the kingdom of heaven, in the presence of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God, ever-loving and eternally existing.

Many Americans don’t really understand spirituality. They possess a rather vague and shallow conception of the nature of spirituality and seem to assume that personal spirituality is just one of many parts of a person’s life, disconnected from other parts. Spirituality is treated as one category in a series of categories that make up a person’s existence. When someone understands himself or herself as being divided into a number of disunited categories, then he or she cannot find true wholeness.

How many young adults in our culture, or older adults for that matter, invest their time, energy, and hopes in building a satisfying “professional life” while neglecting the spiritual life? Maybe they have honest intentions of focusing on their spirituality at a later time, but spiritual neglect will affect the whole person. Those who try to divide their lives into separate parts, like professional, spiritual, academic, family, and romantic parts, and consider spirituality as merely one of those parts, will fail to fulfill their life potential. They will fail because their understanding of spirituality, the self, and human existence is based upon false assumptions informed by American cultural ideas rather than founded on the Truth revealed to us by our Creator.

Instead of dividing our lives into separate compartments and seeing ourselves as a sum of individual parts, each one of us should see our life as a complete, unified whole. We are not like wooden cases with a series of shelves, each shelf representing a different aspect of life. Instead, we are like perfect spheres of glass with every particular aspect of life mystically present within. Through the center of this sphere runs an axis that radiates pure light. This light does not originate with us, but with God, who shines His divine light through us. On this axis our lives revolve. The axis is our spirituality, our relationship with God, in whose image we have been made. When we place our spirituality at the center of life and develop our relationship with God, all the aspects of our lives will harmoniously rotate in one fluid motion around a central axis. When the axis of spirituality glows brightly, the divine light permeates our whole lives, influencing every aspect of our existence.

If we desire to improve all of the various aspects of our lives, then we must place spirituality at the center of our priorities and attentiveness. If we ignore our spirituality, the axis around which our lives move, or subordinate our spirituality to any other priority, then we will fail to fulfill our identity and ultimate purpose in life. On the other hand, if we attend to our spirituality and develop it, all aspects of our lives will coexist in harmony. Through intimate communion with our Creator we will find wholeness and balance.

A tree’s roots dive deep and stretch wide beneath the soil, its source of nourishment. Toward the heavens the tree stretches its broad fruit-bearing branches. A healthy tree produces healthy fruit. Humans are like trees in the sense that we find overall health and wellbeing when we possess healthy roots. Spirituality is the root system of the human soul. When we maintain healthy roots, the Spirit nurtures us through our roots so that we mature, reach toward the heavens, and bear healthy fruit (good actions) in our lives.

Copyright © 2006 by Dana S. Kees. Photo copyright © 2005 by Dana S. Kees.