When someone is trying to recover through something traumatic, whether it be an event in their life or an addiction, the first thing that must happen is that they be in an environment that will offer them the stability to endure it. When the environment isn’t in place, they will constantly resort to their bad behaviors or deny the reality of what they are experiencing to continue coping. The power of a new location allows them to experience what their life is trying to bring to the forefront. The location is the shelter for their life to crumble. The location is the shelter for their new beginning in their existential death.
When I look at what treatment centers do, or people who welcome troubled people into their lives, I don’t see a very spiritual act. They are simply providing a physical center for a physical person. There is nothing experiential or transformational about it. But, when we give someone one of their foundational needs as a human being, it serves as the grace, a gift of life. The very physical act creates a spiritual reaction in both the giver and the receiver. The giver is no longer attached to the object they are giving away (you cannot serve God and mammon), and by receiving the person in need they open their eyes to a bigger worldview— a worldview that doesn’t allow us to deny the suffering in the world, and can move us towards compassion. When the person in need receives the gift from the giver, if they are able to, they are able to receive the compassion, the love that was not consciously present to them before. They are also able to receive a place where they can begin receiving themselves, and move towards a more holistic consciousness of who they are, and the world they live in.
When I look at many activists around the world, I see many beautiful, yet, angry people. I see people who became frustrated with the systems and the people who were blind to what seemed so clear to them, and their hearts became hard towards others. Eventually, they become just as much a part of the problem as they are the solution. Their beautiful intentions become masked in their own hatred.
When I look at mystics. I see beautiful people who have learned who learned how to absorb their own souls. They have learned how to do the work of the soul. They have learned how to love, forgive, and accept themselves. Yet, many people I know who are mystics have not learned how to live with others. Many people who have such a deep and strong internal life have not yet learned hot to translate this into a physical life.
The power of grace is a living dynamic. Every living thing must be welcomed as a guest, and not as a possession. This is why those who learn how to lose their life will find it. When the activist is able to become a mystic, and when the mystic is able to become an activist, they are moving towards becoming a whole person. When we are unable to receive the grace of life and give it to others, then we were never able to receive the grace itself, and we have become a product of self-preservation. But, when we are able to give the love we have received, when we are able to serve as we have been served, when we are able to love as we have been loved, then we will find the wholeness that we all desire in our public/private faith. We will no longer need to teach the Gospel to anyone, we will have become the Gospel. Our words, our actions, will reflect the good news that we ourselves have received.