Spiritual Formation vs. Experience

I've been reading Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart since finishing Nouwen, and the book largely focuses on spiritual formation. Not just actively forming your own spirit, and not just passively "being formed" by the Holy Spirit, (there is really no "just" involved in that experience - "solely" is a more fitting word) but both seeking and being sought, giving and receiving, working and resting - very holistic.

Jen and I went to see The Darjeeling Limited (the new Wes Anderson film). In it, three affluent young brothers travel through India by train. They're actively seeking "spiritual experiences," stopping in at mosques and shrines along the way, doing kitschy little ceremonies with peacock feathers in the desert, etc... but every spiritual attempt ends in failure.

However, in between (and sometimes during) those attempts, life happened.

It is in the challenges and hardships that frustratingly (for them) take them "off course" that they are actually being pushed, stretched, formed and refined.

Dallas Willard writes: "spiritual experiences do not constitute spiritual formation," citing Paul's vision on the road to Damascus as an example of experience. Very sexy. But it was what Paul did and lived after the experience that truly formed him.

I want to stop trying to make things happen - pushing, pulling - yanking - on life, God and the future to happen now. On my schedule. I want to be formed and deepened by the sacred of right now.

1 comment:

james said...

2 in less than a week, that makes me very happy.

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