In An Introduction to Incarnational Spirituality, David Spangler writes:
Incarnational Spirituality honors who we are as unique incarnate individuals and seeks to enable us to express the creativity and energy inherent…in the phenomenon of selfhood…The self has a real existence and effect in the world. It is a presence that is constantly emerging and manifesting…(it is) the expression of an identity, the manifestation of a set of boundaries, a means of connection and engagement with the world, an emergent phenomenon, and perhaps above all, a means by which wholeness may be introduced and enhanced…Whatever the ultimate nature of the self, its function is to hold consciousness and life, enabling them to participate in the shaping of the world.
One of the chief mysteries of my own life involves this dynamic exploration of the inner self. As a girl with a bent toward the numinous, I struggled to find the wholeness called God. I looked for Him everywhere, much like The Patchwork Puppy, the main character in my Golden Tiny Tale Storybook, who wandered all over town asking others to mirror back his true, beautiful self. In fact, in every book, every engagement, I sought the reflection of meaning, of God.
Yet bred in the deep heart of the Gulf South, the practical pursuit of God often felt like a receding horizon–or a mythic kingdom with a hidden drawbridge surrounded by the moat of “humanity,” synonymous with sin.
Though not exclusively a southern phenomenon, the relationship between shame and faith was certainly exacerbated by the cultural strictures of religiosity further crippled by conservative mores masquerading as “God’s will.”
Even though I attended a liberal Catholic church, it was still more or less an assumption that Divinity existed apart from the inherently profane human being.
Yet mysteriously my search didn’t begin there–with austerity and judgment. Actually, in some ways the mystical realm was an active, vibrant playmate. So I didn’t realize that enacting the rites of communion at home after church with my little brother wasn’t typical playtime. Or that my favorite pastime–searching the skies above the Coastal Gulf for the place where God lived before he formed the universe (peeling back layer after layer of color and cloud in my mind’s eye as I honed in on God‘s location) was an uncommon spiritual practice.
Nor was there a category for the “angel‘s whisper,” that inner voice influencing my early writings. Or the visions that started as dreams and twilight imagery, synchronicities from the world beyond dropping at my feet like leaves.
Not understanding my own interior nature at all, I didn’t have language to express these sensitivities, especially as struggles in my immediate environment growing increasingly more intense.
It never once occurred to me that God was communicating with me from within. In my teens and early twenties, especially, quest for the external God became the answer to everything! If I could find Him, or at least track His footprints to a specific trail, then the purpose of life–my life, life in general–would surely make sense.
An encounter with fundamentalism was inevitable.