Torn to Pieces

“The spirituality of imperfection speaks to those who seek meaning in the absurd, peace within the chaos, light within the darkness, joy within the suffering…This is not a spirituality for saints or gods, but for people who suffer from what the philosopher-psychologist William James called “torn-to-pieces-hood”…We have all known that experience, for to be human is to feel at times divided, fractured, pulled in a dozen directions…and to yearn for serenity, for some healing…”

     “Torn-to-pieces-hood” is a “hood” I’d rather not live in. Being divided, fractured, and pulled in a dozen directions is not my idea of a good time; but like them or not, trials such as these come with the territory of the imperfect world we inhabit. There’s no way around it, from time to time, life can be overwhelming.

     Spirituality is often considered a way to escape our woes, a comfortable cocoon, a realm of refuge where we can experience serenity and healing. Spirituality thus understood is a feel good venture that can dispel, at least for a time, the absurdity, chaos, darkness, and suffering that authors Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham refer to in the above quote.  Nothing wrong with a little serenity, but true, healthy, mature spirituality is not an escape from life, it is not about rising above our pain, but entering into it to such a degree that we experience the meaning, peace, light, and joy that lie beneath the surface of what and how we feel, when what and how we feel doesn’t feel so good.

    Unlike the brand of spirituality that tries to make everything feel better, the spirituality of imperfection is imperfect, meaning it is not a “fix,” it is not a palliative, it does not pretend to heal what hurts. Instead, it affirms that in the midst of life’s trials and tragedies there is a sacredness that can sustain us. To experience this sustaining presence, we have to be still, quiet, and open – no easy task when we feel “torn-to-pieces.”

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