One of the core texts for our first year at Mars Hill Grad School is Soulmaking: The Desert Way of Spirituality by Alan Jones. Sadly, I only read a few chapters in it, which I drank as though in the proverbial desert. ERGO, I picked it up while on my Luna de Miel in Costa Rica and again, my internal world gulped, slushed, and if not monitored, guzzled down the gorgeously painful thoughts coined by Jones and his fleet of mentors–both ancient and contemporary.
Guzzling gorgeously painful thoughts huh? Does that confuse you, maybe twitterpated your heart a bit? I felt it.
Well, anyway here’s a quote to whet, wet your or actually my dusty soul,
Yet the command of religion is: “Be ye perfect.” There is no getting around this. Religiously minded people are thus able to translate their neuroses into virtues. The neurotic desire to please becomes saintliness and forebearance ; aggressiveness becomes heroism, the brave and steadfast adherence to received truth; aloofness becomes wisdom and self-sufficiency. If we are not careful, the three aspects of our basic anxiety or conflict are glorified and reconciled…Perfectionism can easily give way to neurotic ambition; the drive to win, to come out on top, to come off best. That which pushes us towards self-idealization also encourages us to demand and expect (not necessarily conciously) absolute fearlessness, mastery over life, or (worse still) saintliness. Jung tells a story about being visited by an uncommonly saintly man who, after a couple of days, begun to make Jung feel unworthy and uncomfortable. The saintly man seemed to be without flaw. It was not until Jung met the man’s unhappy wife that he realized the enormous cost to another of the man’s “saintliness.”
The saint who thinks he casts no shadow is very dangerous. That is why, traditionally, the two marks of the saint are joy and penitence: joy because one knows that one is not God, and yet with God all things are possible. The saint knows that perfection rests in divinity and not in the ability of the believer to negotiate reality so that one “comes off best.” The saint knows that he or she is not God and yet knows how easily one can forget this simple fact. The saint knows about darknesses and shadows that cloud judgment…