Monday, August 07, 2006


"what drives you? what are your core desires that shape you as a person, your life, your relationships, your hour-to-hour existence?" this question was poised this afternoon in class. i answered this question by looking at my day and the areas that draw my attention. i was struck with the realization that much of who i am is shaped by a deep desire to find the proverbial "diamond in the ruff"- this is why i devour books, search for new music, peruse thrift stores, recycle ideas... will i ever be satisfied? can i become less of a user and still want more out of life? how could this desire be directed more redemptively? should i learn to rest in what is instead of always push away and towards whatever lies beyond? and how does my view of hope play in? a good question begets more questions... ask it to yourself.
here is a beautiful quote linking desire to spirituality:
It is an unquenchable fire, a restlessness, a longing, a disquiet, a hunger, a loneliness, a gnawing nostalgia, a wildness that cannot be tamed, a congenital all-embracing ache that lies at the center of human experience and is the ultimate force that drives everything else. This dis-ease is universal. Desire gives no exemptions. It does however admit to different moods and faces. Sometimes it hits us as plain dissatisfaction, frustration, and aching. At other times its grip is not felt as painful at all, burns as a deep energy, as something beautiful, as an inexorable pull, more important than anything else inside us, toward love, beauty, creativity, and a future beyond our limited present. Desire can show itself as aching pain or delicious hope. Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with that desire. - ronald rolheiser


pedro said...

The word "nostalgia" particularly stuck out for me because I am a nostalgic person. Nostalgia is, unfortuantely a yearning for a bygone era or experience that may, in fact, exist only as an idealistic (and unrealistic) yearning in my mind. I do, however, resonate with this description of spiritual desire. I think, Phil, that this desire is what drives me to insatiably devour, at turns, childrens' literature, ideas, intellectual conversation, knowledge, etc. C.S. Lewis aptly describes this desire, which eventually proved his saving grace, in his memoir "Surprised by Joy." This book does a great job of enfleshing the concept of spiritual desire.

elnellis said...

i like what you said about nostalgia- it reminds me of a quote by gabriel marcel that says-
"hope is a memory of the future."

and cs lewis' words about desire- i believe he said somewhere that no desire exists that does not find it's full completion in redemption.

in class i've been able to hear stories from different women who have put words to how male-dominant systems have systematically attempted to silence or shame the desires of women... (in leadership, sexuality, and in countless other ways...)

what will it take for the church to lean into and encourage desire connecting it to spiritual formation. so often we condemn desire on the basis that they are often lead to sin. i think of the buhdist idea that desire leads to suffering so one must eliminate desire... the incarnation of christ was based in the "for God so loved the world" (desire) that lead to suffering and death on behalf of the other.
ok now i'm rambling.

pedro said...

I agree - desire itself is not unholy. Like every other area of our life, what sanctifies desire is what lies at its heart - whether it is narcissistic desire or whether it is a desire to connect in real relationship. I really like your thoughts on desire and gender. I remember hearing similar sentiments from De Roset in message prep for women. It's interesting - I think that the goal of feminism of empowering women is, at its heart, noble, but I think that in stead of truly empowering women it has made them slaves to desire. In encouraging women to seize what they desire, it has often gone to excesses and has become a power struggle in itself. I think thast men should desire for women to become empowered individuals and, in so doing, must sacrifice some of their gender-based power and priviledge. Similarly, I believe that the West must give up some of its economic and political power and must scale back its excessive rate of ocnsumption in order to empower the developing world. Christ sanctifies desire by crucifing those parts of our desire that are self-centered. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you. Who, if they find an invaluable treasure will not sacrifice all they have (even what is most dear to them) to gain it?