I’m taking a few days for rest and reflection with my family. This week I’ll be reposting some of my favorite guest posts dealing with spiritual formation. You cannot read these and reflect on them too many times.
This is guest post by my friend, Rhesa Higgins. In addition to being married to one of my college roommates, Rhesa is atrained spiritual director in Dallas, TX and the founding director of The Center for Spiritual Formation. Chad and Rhesa are raising their three amazing kids: Raemey, Ryleigh, and Caysson. Rhesa enjoys a good caramel macchiato, a great book, and the best knock-knock jokes a 6 year old can tell. You can find her blog at: http://cfspiritualformation.wordpress.com/
When I was in the fourth grade, I ran into an academic brick wall: fractions. Suddenly, fractions weren’t just an exercise in coloring a certain number of pizza slices out of each picture. No, now we were expected to find a common denominator in order to add and subtract them. I was lost. One afternoon, while I slogged through yet another worksheet of torture (fractions homework), my mom called me into the kitchen.
“Come help me make some cookies,” she said. The counter was covered in the necessary ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, salt, chocolate chips, baking soda and measuring cups. The mixer was there and a large bowl, as well. I didn’t hesitate to start helping her measure out ingredients and pretend there was no homework to be done.
As we worked together, we couldn’t find the ½ cup measuring cup. Mom asked me to figure out how we could use the ¼ cup instead. I did it without hesitation. She smiled. Then, she mysteriously couldn’t find the ¼ teaspoon measuring spoon either. She asked me to figure out how we could use the ½ teaspoon instead. I quickly sorted it out. She grinned again.
Later, while we ate warm cookies together, she asked me how my fractions homework was going. I sighed and complained loudly that I would never understand fractions. She laughed and pulled the measuring cups out again.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t do fractions; it was that in the abstract of a worksheet, fractions didn’t make seem important. In the concrete world of cookie baking, one of my favorite things to do with my mom, fractions were a necessary tool.
I think that for many Christians, spiritual disciplines are a lot like fractions: abstract and seemingly vague. We have a rough idea that this is what we SHOULD be doing but very little idea WHY. The phrase ‘spiritual disciplines’ is even misleading, conjuring up images of barbells, uniforms, and buzz cuts. How can those things be spiritual?