the spirituality of where you’re at

I’m sitting now in an empty classroom. The temperature outside is about 96 degrees, the temperature in here is 75.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve tried studying in another space in the afternoons. Too much time in the apartment and all its distractions meant I was not getting as much done as I should have.

There are two languages this summer for me to, if not master, at least study enough to be able to translate a few pages of text in a couple of hours. I finally found my rhythm for study. German in the morning, Latin in the afternoons. So far it seems to be working.

I’m sitting here because after trying the library I realized while it was certainly cool enough and had places to sit, there was not really quiet. Libraries are busy sorts of places. People quite close by moving, shuffling papers, sometimes talking. There’s a lot of human presence in a library, and I’ve long realized I’m quite sensitive to all of that.

On the various personality tests over the years I consistent rank as an extreme introvert. Meaning I score as high, or as low, as possible in the indications that for my inner batteries to recharge I need to be away from people.

I know this is a major factor in my personal spirituality as well. Which is probably why churches never particularly feel like spiritual experiences for me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not thinking some kind of isolated religiosity is the way for me. There’s just no getting around the intense sociality that is the call for the people of God. We are, after all, a gathered people.

But, sociality rarely means reinvigorating spirituality for me. To find that, to find restored creativity, I have to get away from people’s noises and movements, far away. I’ve learned that when I do that my creative self starts to awaken again. I begin to write. I start to plan. My mind wanders the fields of creative theology, making connections, focusing.

Words start to pour out again.

Which probably explains why I so rarely write here anymore. I live in a city now, in an apartment complex that while filled with particularly good and interesting and God loving folk, is still a place filled with people. In such a city as this even the wild spaces tend to have a fair amount of human presence. There is no “away”.

I struggle to write. When there are demands or deadlines, that pushes me out of my malaise, but very rarely do I find that space to write or think or wander afield in unraveling, unknotting thoughts. My prayer life, devotional life, creative life takes a deep stumble. This isn’t an excuse. I still try. It’s a reality. When I find an empty, quiet space where my introversion can be freed, I just become more whole again.

But that’s not the place I am in. I’m not living in a forest or on a deserted shore or in the midst of a vast stretch of uninhabited oasis.

I am here. In the city. So the quest is not to wait for when I feel most alive or to put off for when I feel the situation is more suitable or when circumstances finally free me to do what I want to do.

The call is for me to be spiritual in this place, to embrace this place as the place where God has me in this season. Whatever my lack, whatever my frustrations, whatever my irritations or understood needs — this is where I am at. I prayed. God put me here.

I need to find God’s wholeness in a setting where I feel so little of my own wholeness. I need to let the Spirit’s creativity fill my heart especially when I feel so little of my own creativity discovering even a little bit of spark.

I need to learn how to live — truly, wholly, fully — in this present. Being where I am rather than where I would wish to be.

Because God is here. Even if I’d rather he be somewhere else and have me with him there. He is here. And I need to be wholly here, with him, and discover this spirituality of this place.

Even if I don’t want to. That’s what I need to continue to learn how to do.

Of course, I’ll probably always, at least occasionally, need a cool empty classroom, a deserted bit of forest, or a kayak in the middle of a broad lake to help me more fully retune and remember such a calling. Even Jesus had his getaways, after all.

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