Living from the Center
A reflection from the St. Gregory's e-news, 7/14/17.
The spiritual life, at it's no frills simplest, is the work of maintaining a connection to our own compassionate center, moment-by-moment. So often we don't know, or remember, that we have a center of identity deeper than our superficial personality. We take our own ego-drama—our personal story, our defenses, our wounds—to be who we are. But these are only a part of who we are, and they are not our deepest self.
Deeper than all the drama, there is a core of spaciousness and love—what St. Paul calls "Christ in me" (Gal. 2:20). In spiritual practice, we learn to come into contact with this core of who-we-are-in-God, and we learn to more and more draw our identity (one might even say our non-identity!) from there.
Staying in touch with this center is a constant dance, because the circumstances around us are continually shifting. It's also not (I hate to tell you!) a state of being "blissed out" or remaining unaffected by life. Rather, it's a navigation—as we are thrown off center by what life throws our way, can we re-balance, come back to center, and respond to the arising conditions from the center?
If we don't respond from the center, we'll respond instead from our ego-self, our personal drama, our "poor me." And don't get me wrong—this smaller self has its rights. When it's been trampled on, it needs to be heard. But it's helpful to remember that we're not only this smaller, reactive, and wounded self, and that this self is not always the best interpreter of reality. Sometimes it imagines motivations that were never there, or spins out stories that are just that—stories.
By returning to our center, we can find the strength and the invulnerable vulnerability (that's not a typo—sit with it) to explore our situation compassionately and non-reactively. Because, from the perspective of our deeper self, nothing is personal. Miscommunication happens, egos play out their dramas, people hide their motivations—but none of that is about this deep self, our real "I," from which we gain the clarity and capacity to engage all of it. While, from the perspective of the smaller self, everything is personal—and that makes for a difficult life.
The truth, of course, is in the dance of finding center, losing center, and returning to center—and in discovering the transformation that's possible when we come to know the deeper dimensions of who we really are.
And so, may we all come to know, and live, Christ-in-us. Amen.