Saturday, November 01, 2008

Spiritual formation

I began reading Robert Mulholland Jr.'s book Invitation To A Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation again. I read this book for a seminary class ten or so years ago. It is built around Mulholland's fourfold definition of spiritual formation... "Spiritual formation is (1) a process (2) of being conformed (3) to the image of Christ (4) for the sake of others."

I liked this book, and contrary to many of my seminary mates, I actually liked the spiritual formation classes we were required to take. As Mulholland says on p. 13:
Our spirituality is not an "add-on," it is the very essence of our being. We are spiritual beings whose emotions, psychology, body and mind are the incarnation of our spiritual life in the world. We will see that holistic spirituality always takes place in the midst of our emotional, psychological, physical and mental conditions and emerges out of them.

We will also see... that in holistic spirituality any "one-size-fits-all" prescription is not realistic. We are unique persons, and our relationship with God always manifests that individuality. Our process of spiritual formation toward wholeness may be very different from others.

Sometimes I think people are freaked out by the term "spiritual formation." I'm not totally sure why. But to me it's more just like finding oneself. Or, maybe, finding the self God means for us to be. And maybe that's the scary part - if we find out that we are not who God intends for us to be. That's exactly what I do want to find out though. And I like the emphasis that we find ourselves, not for our own sake, but it is always for the sake of others.

I also like this prayer that starts off Chapter 1:
Gracious and loving God, you know the deep and inner patterns of my life that keep me from being totally yours. You know the misformed structures of my being that hold me in bondage to something less than your high purpose for my life. You also know my reluctance to let you have your way with me in these areas. Hear the deeper cry of my heart for wholeness and by your grace enable me to be open to your transforming presence in this reading. Lord, have mercy.


Amen.