A woman I recently met told me that she had read everything I had ever written. Even assuming that she meant everything that I had published, not written, it was still a bit of a disconcerting thought. I hoped she was not more attached to what I write than I am myself, perhaps being the sort of person who was about to tell me that she liked how I described something or other much better in an earlier book than a recent one. But quickly I felt at ease when she said how much she identified with the direction my journey was taking. Quite perceptively she said that she noticed an underlying theme in my books of becoming more than we are. She said she had come to recognize that this was what organized my approach to the integration of psychology and spirituality. I told her to fasten her seat belt because that background theme was about to move to the front burner in the book about to be released (where the focus is becoming fully human) and the one that I have just about completed (where the focus is awakening and transformation).
My work and thinking on these matters has been the background to my recent experience of the death of a long-time very dear friend. How does death fit with awakening, transformation and becoming more than we are? Like any good existential question, this is, of course, a question to be lived, not answered. We must live our way into an answer, not simply clasp beliefs as a way of distancing ourselves from the question. Beliefs are an indispensable and important part of the way humans exercise our need for meaning-making. But beliefs lack the holding power of trust. We hold beliefs. But only faith that translates into trust is strong enough to holds us.
But back to the question which – among many – I have been pondering since the death of my friend. In our last conversation, I told him that I believed and knew he had been trusting that death was not the end of life but a stage of life. I share that trust. I trust that the source and ground of all existence lies in the constantly out-pouring life of God. Moment by moment, all creation is sustained by God. Creation is not just something that happened in the past. While there must have been something like a beginning point, it was the beginning of an active relationship that never stops – a relationship that exists between the Creator and every person and every thing that exists. If this relationship were suddenly to stop, we and everything else that is would instantly cease to exist.
But it is not just all being that is grounded in God. So too is all becoming. The universe is a place of creativity, becoming and transformation because these are fundamental properties of the God who sustains it. All things are not only sustained by God, all things are also being made new in Christ. All things are being liberated and restored – becoming more than they are, becoming all they were intended to be in their fullness in Christ.
Life is a restless movement of becoming. Like water trickling down the side of a mountain, life will eventually find its course. That path will lead it by stagnant pools, through rapids, over falls, and up against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Like all of life, that course will involve waxing and waning. But life will make its way as it evolves from tickle to stream to river and eventually to lake or sea – returning us and all of creation back to our Source and our Fulfillment as we and all of life flow back into God. This is a journey from fragmentation to integration, from alienation to alignment, from part to whole. It is a journey toward being at one – at one within our self and at one with all that is.
None of this answers the good existential questions I have been leaning into since the death of my friend. It does express, however, the framework in which I attempt to live the questions and allow the answers to form within my life, not just my beliefs.