“The journey of wholeness is not a self-improvement project. It’s a journey of loss, trust, transformation, and eventually hope”
From the book Whole by Steve Wiens – pg127
The wrestle with the word wholeness or any word that endeavours to leave you with joy over melancholy is that you just need to enter into the process, one step at a time, to even begin to know what it might actually mean. It is active and outside of yourself yet tenderly sits inside the most secret part of your insides. It is joy in sorrow and hope in lament. It is wholeness because it is the fullness of sacred experience with all its many facets.
Some days it will look like a mountain and some days it will look like a walk along a quiet stream. I have been in both scenarios but gone are the days of striving! I walk now with the mindset that in essence I am whole and I am a new creation. Nothing can change that as a spiritual reality. The challenge comes when you start the journey of understanding wholeness from a place that isn’t as God originally designed, from the beginning. Some might argue that “the fall” means that nothing is guaranteed but I hold the notion that our minds can know a stillness and wholeness that all of our journeying can be done from.
I see this most poignantly in the seventh day of creation and the celebration of Shabbat. The first thing in scripture that is called holy. A day called Sabbath, rest, in which we Shabbat, stop. A day described by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as “a sanctuary in time”, in his book The Sabbath: It’s meaning for modern man. In my experience it has required rest and stopping to see where I have reared to the left or the right, when I have reached for control and desired the things that were never designed for me. Where I have heard a question and responded from a hiding place I never thought I had placed myself in.
Wholeness comes from stopping. Stopping, seeing, hearing and engaging with a power higher than ourselves. Stopping the things that look like freedom but are in fact covering our essence and hindering us from engaging with the world around us in its purest form.
There are times of wilderness in our lives where God takes us to Him in a very unique way. The wilderness is the place where God speaks (It’s from the word “to speak” in hebrew) and everything we thought we might need there slowly gets left at the last tree we stopped under for a rest. Even the thought of destination no longer lingers in our minds. The wilderness has an array of landscapes and each story that enters it is completely different. It is a place where God sees us and things get personal and deeply intimate.
Ultimately wholeness is not about knowing where we are going but it can hold the invitation to start the conversation of where we have been. We can get fooled into thinking we know what each day will hold, even at times in our lives where we have jobs that seem monotonous and the situation at home with friends and family isn’t easy. We can never know what might happen next and we live in that fragile reality whether we partner with it in hope or fear.
I love what Steve highlights in his book Whole. It captures the essentials of the verb of God and what it might mean to engage with him in a way that is no longer about the “self-improvement project”. Engaging with a power higher than ourselves, for me a God that I call Father, is about a journey as part of the “whole”, the humanity, the community, the family, the creation that we are part of. How we choose kindness and love will have a huge impact on our own journeying through loss, trauma, transformation and hope and when we are engaged with the “whole” in this way we get the equal measure, if not more of joy, gratefulness, gladness, beauty, generative creativity and celebration.
Wholeness is about bringing forth “the secret”, as Steve puts it. That secret that seeks the wholeness of our brothers and sisters in a way that requires courage, because that secret will be the most tender part of you, the place inside of you that feels like you might be destroyed if you share it. Wholeness to me is about inhabiting sacred spaces in motion, like Shabbat and the other biblical feasts like Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles) surrounded by your community, your family. Its about engaging with the journey in a sacred way and not throwing away those moments of transformation as if they were just meaningless. Sacred transformation is not self-improvement on steroids. Sacred transformation is about witness, laughter, tears, melody, faith and light, and maybe, just maybe an easier way of saying this IS wholeness.
I have so enjoyed engaging with the text of Whole, by Steve Wiens. I encourage you to get a copy and start the work. It’s a clear and beautifully written and gives you so many invitations to engage with. I would encourage you to read it with a friend as well, maybe your sacred community and see that everything changes when you really engage with the beauty that we are truly are, in it together!
What are you waiting for?
Whole, by Steve Wiens is available on Amazon. You can also listen to his podcast, “This good Word” on iTunes. Check out Steve’s website www.stevewiens.com for more information.