C is for Clarity
Photo by Robot Monster
I am currently blogging, along with my daughter, all the way through the alphabet. Check out how the idea started, and get the rules here.
There is nothing like seeing clearly. At least that’s what I’ve heard. If there’s anything all the world religions have in common, it is the contention that our fundamental problem is lack of clarity. We do not “see” rightly. The literal meaning of the word “sin” is “to miss the mark.” To not quite get it.
Of course C is also for contemplation. And counseling. Both means by which we actually come to see clearly. In fact without at least one of these, it is unlikely we will come to see clearly. We will remain stuck in our very small understandings of ourselves. And if we do not see our own depths, we will certainly fail to see into the depths of others.
But what exactly is to be seen? Most people insist they don’t need things like counseling or contemplation. They are fine just the way they are. Of course this insistence is, in itself, the problem. I am driving to a certain place for a meeting. You are in the car with me and keep telling me I am going the wrong way, but I am positive you are mistaken. And so I continue on my way, getting “loster” and loster as I go. I do not, in fact, begin to get found until I realize I am lost.
There is a fascinating account in the New Testament where Jesus is talking about spiritual blindness (a profound lack of clarity). The religious leaders of the time get offended and say, “What? You don’t think WE’RE blind, do you?” Jesus said, “If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin. But now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” Jesus seems to be saying that the very act of insisting that one is not blind is the ultimate blindness.
Jesus also said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good your whole body will be full of light. But if the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Spiritually speaking, clarity only begins to come when we say, “I am disoriented. I am not seeing properly. Something is the matter. I don’t know what it is, but I want to find out.” The desire for clarity is the first step in moving toward it. And as we get clearer and clearer about what is inside of us, and inside of others, we will see more and more clearly how much mystery, how much unclarity, still remains. That is the reason that real spirituality never produces pride, but rather humility.
Some people say, “This is a trap. If I say I’m fine, you insist that that’s part of my problem. I can’t argue with it.” That, actually, is correct. Spirituality insists that we begin by acknowledging a need, a lack, a deficit of some kind. That is the only place real spirituality can begin. If we believe we lack for nothing, there is truly nothing that can be done. And of course if we believe we lack for nothing, this will be quite okay with us.