My spiritual M.O. is something that prefers not being pinned down. I’ve always been a spiritual adventurer.
Says Jesus, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Some of us prefer a cookie cutter approach to life, career, religion, even art and music. We like comfort zone familiarity, even if it doesn’t deliver.
I’ve never been happy with the idea that everyone needs to be “happy” per someone else’s definition of the word, for example grabbing for all the gusto, becoming “successful” by following steps A through K. Fine, if that’s what you want. People do become successful this way, in the worldly and materialistic sense of the word. I’ve also learned it’s OK not to give a hang about the gusto.
For years I kicked myself because I felt intimidated by the success peddlers. What bothered me most was that I never felt attracted to material goods, “dream” houses, and the pitch to have more and more and more. It’s also not impressive when it’s presented as “you’re not spiritual if you don’t get rich”!
Here’s what clarified this: The Savior and Lord that I know says love not the world, and that you cannot serve God and mammon.
After considerable experimentation I’ve come to the same conclusion.
Then there’s that word “gusto”. The word “gust” makes up the lion’s share of it. Gust refers to wind. So if you’re grabbing for the gusto, it seems to me that you’re grabbing at something that isn’t going to be hanging around for very long, something that is not only hard to hang onto, but cannot be grasped in the first place. You have to grab and grab ad infinitum. Good luck on getting a handful of that! Gusto is more trouble than it’s worth.
Did you ever stop to think about how many songs are about gusto grabbing? The Impossible Dream… I Did It My Way… I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles. And more.
The entire gusto gig is one big fat illusion – people chasing after wind, with a cookie cutter approach they learned at an expensive seminar, pursuing something that is destined to blow away in the end.
Jesus also refers to this as the house built on sand. The Buddha called it attachment to things destined to disappear, the source of all unhappiness. Solomon calls it vanity or futility. Apparently there’s a consensus of truly great minds over this matter.
There’s a difference between being gone with the wind, and one with the wind!
Let me see if I can clarify a little more.
As someone who makes art, I observe that people really like craft shows. They really dig it – all those little trinkets made by using cookie cutter patterns. Steps A through K guarantees an outcome. Customers at these events like to buy items based on patterns.
If I were a craftsperson, I would go crazy producing this stuff. Admittedly some of it is intricate and pleasing to the eye, but it is still based on patterns. Patterned items remind us of our comfortable patterned behavior.
That’s why abstract art drives people nuts. They can’t identify with its patternless movement or symbolism. The same is true for jazz improv. These art forms break us away from the comfortable ritual patterns we love to sink into. They say, “Hey you, there’s another way to live than in your rut-tines.” These art forms may even feel threatening! They unsettle us and change the energy.
Maybe they even change the rules of the game.
Many jobs and careers are very repetitious. I held such a job for many years. It was based upon the repetitions of patterns which brought successful results in the surgical setting and was highly technical. There are very definite procedures which one must learn to accomplish a desired outcome. I burned out, realizing it was pattern repetition, albeit very sophisticated – absolutely antithetical to my basic creative nature.
Religion is no different, whether it is sacerdotal in form or claimed otherwise. Much of it involves ritual formulae, which is the repetition of patterns designed to bring about a spiritual result.
This doesn’t have to be “high church”. Sojourning through many denominations, it would always bring a smile to my face when devotees of newer forms of Christianity would claim, “We don’t have rituals like the Catholics and Lutherans.” My reply: “Yes, you do. You meet same time every Sunday, prayers are said at a certain time, hymns are sung at a certain time, the choir does its thing at a certain time, the sermon is spoken at a certain time, with your altar call at the end. And that, my friend, is ritual.”
It’s difficult to get away from pattern repetition. It exists even when it comes to personal spiritual practices. For example, I have personal “devotions” every morning right after I get up in a space of quiet and solitude. Seldom does a day go by that I do not observe this ritual, since it’s my way of beginning the day in the Lord’s presence, and it sets the tone for all that follows.
Certainly there is nothing wrong with pattern repetition and rituals – until they become an end in themselves – delivering neither desired results nor us from evil!
The opening verse (John 3:8) was spoken by Jesus to a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who came secretly by night to converse with Jesus about spiritual matters. This sect was the epitome of meticulous observances – ritual behaviors for “getting right” with God.
Jesus teaching and way of doing things baffled them. “Where does His authority to teach and perform miracles come from? This is puzzling,” they reasoned among themselves. Jesus could not be pinned down as to where He came from or where He was going.
Such people can be disturbing to the cookie cutter advocacy.