Wood for the trees
I was in a gathering where the question was asked “name someone of spiritual strength”. The required buzz among the listeners started with their neighbours and then we were offerd the opportunity to shout out a verbal offering some names. And so they came; Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Dalie Lama, Desmond Tu Tu and finally The Queen. There was then a short silence.
I wanted to call this blog Pavlov’s dogs but I am aware this would seem offensive. It is not meant to be. But can we not see the wood for the trees? Are we just conditioned to recite a list of people we have never meet to be our spiritual hero’s. Is it safe to have spiritual heroes we cannot question or hold to account or share our lives with those who are firmly located on another continent or watching us on TV?
There is the cynical situation that whatever the question is in Sunday school the answer must be Jesus. The list above must be the adult version of Sunday school. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying they are not spiritual giants I presume they are, I have never had the privilege of meeting any of them. There is a train of thought that you should not meet you hero’s as they will or might disappoint you, it is why I have refused all offers to play with Bruce Springsteen, the dream is better that the fear of the reality. But I don’t think that is a good stand to take in spiritual growth. In the gathering mentioned above were three clergy people. All who have given a major part of their lives and their families to live in highly demanding poor communities. These three people who I believe are deeply spiritual but not it seems enough to get on the list above, can we not see the wood for the trees?
But here is the point. It is one thing for a community not to recognise their spiritual leaders living amidst their community. But if we don’t see our clergy as spiritual people, spiritual hero’s how will we see our fellow believers as spiritual people, spiritual hero’s. Among us are follow pilgrims of faith who have given their lives to sustain local churches people of spiritual strength clergy and lay. Or more to the point if we don’t recognise local community spiritual strength or spiritual hero’s how we will ever see ourselves on the list of usual suspects above. For at some point in growing up we need to recognise that each of us is called to be a spiritual hero, have spiritual strength in some way.