Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thoughts on Identity or "The Greenhouse"

I am a SWF (single white female.)
I am straight.
I am an actor.
I am a climber.
I am a seminarian.
I am a Christian.
I am a New Yorker.

He is a SWM (single white male.)
He is bisexual.
He is a 7 on the Enneagram.
He is a fireman.
He is an alcoholic.
He is agnostic.
He’s a Californian.

We love these labels, don’t we? We could choose just one from a list and use it to sum ourselves up to someone else, or sum someone else up to ourselves.

Each category contains subcategories. For example, “I am a climber,” means that I love being in the outdoors. It means that I’m physically fit and that I’m up for adventure and activity.

One local restaurant capitalizes on statements like these, and I love going there. When I order my lemon and ginger tea I get to say to the server, “I am effervescent.” And for a moment… I am filled with the identity of effervescence. But when the server walks away I giggle because I am not entirely effervescent.
I just have my moments.

 The Celtic theologian John Philip Newell discusses in his book “Echo of the Soul” that our core selves are in the image of God. Surrounding that core self is a lot of other stuff: our egos, our flesh, our labels, and sometimes our masks.

Yet, this life that burns within us at our deepest is the same life that comes from God, our Source of Life.

Our Source of Life can be called many things.
                        “Holy One”
                                    “Heavenly Father”
But primarily, God is mysterious. And therefore, we are also primarily mysterious.

As Newell says, “Our own being is rooted in the fathomless mystery of God’s being. Our truest identity is deeper than name and definition.”

It is as if the seed of God is planted deep within us and we are both gardens and gardeners. As Meister Eckhart says, “When I began to see the soul in this light, the important thing became not saving the soul but entering it, greening it, developing the divine seed that waits realization.”

I have cultivated my divine seed. She has been growing within me, and I have been so proud of her that I have built an impressive green house around her.
That way, when anyone approaches they will see that there is something truly profound inside. On the windows of the greenhouse are written pious prayers.

And yet, I am finding that my divine plant at the core of my garden is beginning to press against the roof of the greenhouse. A small crack has formed in the glass. I could make a hole through the top of the roof… but something in me says that it’s time to carefully dismantle this impressive structure and give my divine core some fresh air.

On second thought, could someone pass me that sledge hammer?

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