So I’ve spent the past ten days providing a basic explanation of this unorthodox approach to understanding God, Life and the Sacred called Incarnational Spirituality. But exactly who am I and why does this exploration matter to me?
There are so many answers to this one simple question: who am I?
In some ways I am a nobody. I have an assigned name, gender, race, cultural background, occupation and focal point on the earth from which to function. I am one result of an experiment called Humanity: Life on Earth that has been repeated over 108 million times. (And sometimes I feel like I’ve wound up on that one particular shelf in the lab with a bright red warning label!)
Yet simultaneously, I am completely and utterly original. Fordrena Marie Melvina Casandra Griffith. Female. Multiracial. Southern. Teacher. Colorado, some of these answers subject change without notice, including even my chosen name which tends to reflect whichever part of the origin story I’m living in that particular life season.
Yet the answer to the question, who am I, cannot even be restricted to the duality of being either original or lost in the multitude. My friend Jordan and I had an intense discussion recently about the unique role of the human being, which she believes has been overstated.
Jordan commented, “Aristotle said there is nothing original. There is the ‘quality of chairness.’ Well, there’s also the quality of humanity. For instance, there are the people who cannot live without the care and support of the one they love. That’s one archetype. Then you have the ones who never marry. Another archetype. So we turn them off the assembly line and that’s who we get. We are representations of certain prototypes.”
Then who am I?
Really, there is no clear answer. Not in details or digits. Not in history or philosophy. But in the particularity of that sense of boundlessness lies the relevance of Incarnational Spirituality to me personally.
Episcopal priest and spiritual teacher Cynthia Bourgeault once suggested that we are all the multifaceted expressions of God. In one person God experiences Himself as a gay priest; in another God experiences Herself as a traditional homemaker. In some of us God has chosen atheism, agnosticism or even denial of the Sacred. Denial of Itself. God is neither this nor that, so why should we be?
Yet at the same time, we are a conscious expression. And maybe my friend has a point in that we do represent patterned ways of being human. While it’s true that we are all unique, it is also true that we reflect back to the world its own categorical layers–race, gender, culture, region, generation, for example– that certainly have considerable influence over everything from dialect to character traits.
Taking all of this into consideration, I believe it is of utmost importance how we answer this not-so-simple question who am I? And also who are we? What is this overarching quality of humanity?
As I addressed in an earlier post, there are myriad explanations, stories and themes that we human beings have collectively adopted throughout history to answer these questions. What is the point of this experiment? Why would God even need or want to create over 108 million different reflections of Himself, all of these little demigods then imbued with self light, consciousness and their own dreams and desires potentially fracturing and fragmenting His Divine Matrix?
Well, maybe God is more than His Matrix. Or maybe life is more than it appears to be from the perspective of the one. Maybe our prototype needs to be upgraded. If so, it is my opinion that Incarnational Spirituality is one such upgrade.
Having said that, Incarnational Spirituality is really not a religion. Nor does it supplant any other religion or spiritual viewpoint (though I do believe some people with more rigid and conservative views might have to work harder to realize its value). But Incarnational Spirituality is a response in a world needing to return all of these fragmented, fractured pieces of Itself to a complementary, integrated wholeness.
Maybe every generation feels like it’s standing at the brink of humanity’s most critical hour. But if it’s true that we are all facets of God, then He/She/It is in the midst of a civil war being fought over every aspect of seen (and likely unseen) territory. It’s a war over resources, natural and imaginal. It’s a war of perception: of rightness and wrongness; justice versus bias; liberty versus tribe. It’s a war over value: of clean water, of a healthy planet, of the lesser one.
In some ways it’s devastating; in other ways, though, rather exciting, all things considered. How unique it feels to be alive at this point in human history, knowing that even as a single being I can type digitized words on a fabricated screen and potentially connect with other beings across the globe in order to seek healing and wholeness. And in spite of these challenges our world is facing, in spite of the conflict, how remarkable it is to also see people reaching out for higher ground and learning, admittedly through painful trials, to come together.
In the past I’ve told myself some pretty harsh stories about who I was and who we as human beings collectively are. But now I place a much higher value on this “quality of humanity.” And that’s why I’m here sharing my reflections, offering them to the world, albeit imperfectly.
Maybe in the grand scheme one lone human and her quirky views about life don’t really matter. But as Henry David Thoreau said, “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” Maybe human-being, humanity-making, world-healing is an art. If so, that makes God an artist, and us also. Then Incarnational Spirituality is my cache of crafting tools and my particularity the hue I’m using to paint the tiny corner on the canvas that I call my life. I seek, in my own singular way, to join with other like minded souls in coloring this black and white world.
That’s why Incarnational Spirituality matters to me.