Longing for Wholeness

     “Everyone wants to feel the fullness of a life fully lived. The difference is in the strategy. Most think that fame and fortune will be their flowering. Others see their fruit to be in their family. Some strike out on wild adventures, while a few devote themselves to prayer and meditation. Whatever the method, the aim is fundamentally the same – to satisfy a longing for wholeness. We can chase many rainbows before we realize that what we truly want, however, lies in the one place we never thought to look. The flower of our life is already in bud even now, precisely in our present circumstances.”

     The above quote from poet Roger Housden reminds me of the saying “What we reach for may be different, but what makes us reach is the same.” What we think will make us happy varies from person to person depending in large part on the messages we have received and values we have learned from family, peers, faith communities, and society in general; but the inner-hunger that fuels our reaching, the longing for wholeness, the craving for gratification, the homesickness for what is ultimate, is universal.

     To claim that there is a common inner-desire for wholeness, is to say that there is an incompleteness that comes with the territory of being human. Housden claims that no matter what the differences between us (gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.), there lurks within an unsettledness that drives us to seek fullness through fame and fortune, building our families, striking out on wild adventures, or devoting ourselves to a life of prayer. Something seems to be missing. We chase after many “rainbows” in an attempt to satisfy our longing for wholeness, and in the process we often overlook what is right in front of us.

     Hidden in plain sight, disguised in the apparel of the ordinary, cloaked in the dress of everyday life, is that for which we yearn. This is a perplexing claim, since the wholeness for which we long is usually thought to be beyond us rather than within, afar off, not close at hand. This misconception often sends us on an addictive search for what we think/feel is missing, instead of looking more intently at what we have and who we are. What is missing, in other words, is not something we don’t have, but sensitivity to the spiritual fullness that is the ground of our “present circumstances.”

     It may not feel like it in the midst of hard times, but if it’s true that “the flower of our life is already in bud even now,” we would do well to stop and smell the roses.

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