Things more difficult than they may seem

It seems as though there are so few moments in our lives when we feel like we can completely relax and just be ourselves. I think that the reality is that we could live our entire lives, every moment, being just who we are and feeling completely relaxed as we are. In fact, if there is any such thing as “holiness,” “enlightenment,” or even “self-awareness,” this might just be it, the ability to be ourselves without feeling the slightest need to conform to others, to make others conform to us, to adjust who we are for the world, or to adjust the world to who we are.

I think if there is for me any sense of a “calling” into ministry, particularly to be an Episcopal priest, it tends to come back to this idea of creating sacred spaces. The most sacred space I can think of is one in which a person feels all of their psychological defenses drop and they can feel at ease to open themselves and be who they really really are. For Christians, this often takes the language of the unconditional grace and love of God. So, whether it is a worship service, spiritual direction, theological teaching, or even service toward others, the most fundamentally substantive thing a faith community can do is awaken the sense of unconditional acceptance. This is something so basic, so visceral, so primal in fact, that if it is lacking, everything else is only imitation. (Even here, though, to realize the deepest grace of God is to realize that even imitation does not escape the unconditional grace and love of God.)

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

One thought on “Things more difficult than they may seem”

  1. I was thinking recently about moments of rest, of real rest, and the picture came to mind of a single tiny salmon egg, bright pink, in a tumbled sea of otherwise green and blue swaying seaweed. It seems so singular, so quiet, and we might not find another egg for a long time, lodged under a rock or something.

    Oddly, it was a comforting thought and not a depressing one.


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