W is for Wholeness

Coming back from parental leave after the birth of our son feels a bit like stepping onto an escalator or merry-go-round that has been moving all along! I’m still finding my footing again, but it feels good to be along for the ride. And in such good company.

Reclaiming parts of ourselves we have set aside for whatever reason or season (roles, relationships, a/vocations) can feel both scary and rewarding, disorienting and integrating. We might seek to reconnect with core aspects of ourselves and souls we’ve been missing: that curious scholar part, that free artist, team player, or quiet mystic. Whenever we feel more whole, we can be more wholly present for one another — and to the holy. It’s like Saint Augustine said, the spiritual life is about knowing ourselves and knowing God (who knows us fully) – and these two journeys are interwoven.

(It reminds me of a hymn I loved singing in seminary: “You are holy, you are whole, you are always ever more, than we ever understand, you are always at hand.”)

To return to community, to one’s self, and to God/Spirit means somebody has saved a spot for you. Whenever we are ready to reengage, or deepen in the life of the spirit… it is there, ready, willing and waiting for us. It is never too late, never too long, never the wrong time to take a step deeper. To begin again, as Buddhism’s beginner’s mind reminds us.

The season of Lent is just around the corner in the Christian calendar. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which happens to fall on Valentine’s Day this year, a chance to remember our dusty mortality right along with life’s sweetness. Lent can sometimes feel a bit like a downer, with its emphasis on repentance and the sometimes antiquated concept of “salvation.” But what if this old idea of “salvation” is more like spiritual wholeness, more like having your spot saved by the resilience of community?

The progressive, heavily tattooed Lutheran pastor/writer Nadia Bolz-Weber shared a stirring reflection on the thorny notion of “salvation” recently, in response to a question from one of her readers, John: “What does the language of ‘saved’ mean to you?”

I loved Rev. Nadia’s response: “The root word for salvation in Greek is sozo which means wholeness. I love that, John. Because that I could use. I could use the repairing of fractured relationships. I could use the bringing back together of mind, body and spirit. I could use every reminder I can get that I am already whole. There isn’t a supplement or elimination diet, or guru that can make me what I already am: Saved. Whole. Loved.”

Stay tuned for more chances to reflect on the fruitfulness of wholeness, repentance, reconciliation and healing of relationships as we dive into our Lenten worship theme on “The Art of Repair.” Until then, wishing you deep peace – for your whole self! And the whole world.

Kit (and Nate)

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