I don’t want people to think that theology is not important. It is and I enjoy hearing intelligent people talk about it. It’s just not that important to me. I can’t, and never could, get my head round many clever ideas and feel foxed by each cogent opinion I hear expressed on subjects like evolution and euthanasia. I am too easily led. I have tried to engage in debate with people on these subjects, but not recently.
And to a degree I don’t care enough to press my point home even when I have one. My experience is that those who persist in point pressing forget who they’re pressing it into, and who they may be wounding on the way. And that’s my point, that some of us find it much easier to relate to an idea than we do to a person. Jesus was pretty hot on that score and it didn’t go down well for him.
In the past I lived very much in my head, thinking and analysing, shaping my thoughts in to something I felt I could trust and stand by. The problem is once you stand your clever idea up and show it off to the world, someone else comes along and knocks it over with equal cleverness and gleeful panache. And if your identity is too closely bound up with your ideas, your whole sense of self takes a battering. That’s why the notion of ‘playing with ideas’ is useful. The mind is important but we are so much more than our minds – for a start we have bodies which we can feel and listen to to judge our well being.
Every day on the Camino Helen and I did a body check for aches and pains – it began as a bit of fun, neatly sidestepping any moans either of us might have indulged in – but it helped us to become aware of the parts we needed to look after. Feet mostly. Sometimes hips and knees. It was a very useful exercise for me who would be inclined to carry on ignoring all the signs that I was weary. I became aware of the simple miracle of my body healing in my sleep, ( if sleep didn’t happen then being horizontal), and ibuprofen.
Sometimes your body reacts with anxiety and sleeplessness over a decision. It’s as well to know the difference between excitement and anxiety, but both are a sign to you that something is going on and you should LISTEN. Much of Christianity has not held the physical world in high regard, the world is ‘fallen’ therefore untrustworthy, but my sense is that things are changing.
We also have a wise part of our being. You might call it spirit or intuition or just ‘knowing it in your knower’. It is a deep seated place within, beyond logic and beyond words.You can get it when you meet someone and you can trust them. You get it when you meet someone, and you can’t. It doesn’t matter how charming or winning they are, you just know. And this place, this faculty is like a muscle: the more you use it, it grows, becomes stronger and more dependable.
So these days I value a less cerebral approach, more experiential perhaps. Intellectual certainty is less important to me: I am learning that I can trust every part of my (God-given) being to speak wisdom to me. In fact my mind with its tired old prejudices and predictable patterns of thought does not always serve me best. There is so much more than I ever thought or imagined.
PS Just read this for the first time in years – the end of Ephesians 3. 🙂