“Fish and houseguests stink after 3 days” (Ben Franklin, I think). But what stinks even more is BEING the houseguest who stinks. One thing I enjoyed in The Shack was watching Mack settle in to this house that wasn’t his. There’s work involved in fitting yourself into someone else’s household patterns–when breakfast is, who showers when, whether or not you pray before meals, whether or not it’s acceptable to leave your toothbrush in the bathroom, etc.
Today I’m working on a sermon about how Papa, Jesus & Sarayu have made the earth their home, and how spiritual formation simply means our process of settling in to our room and discovering how we fit into THEIR home-life, which has been going on since before forever. The ancient Christian tradition has names for different parts of this learning process:
1. Katharsis, or via purgativa. This is when you discover you’ve acted in a way that disrupts the home and hurts the relationships in it. You’ve gotten mad and punched a housemate in the nose, and it’s clear this is not okay.
2. Fotosis, or via illuminativa. This is when a new way of doing things starts to make sense. You’ve been in darkness and now the light is shining in. You learn to not drink milk from the jug and not put your retainer in the dishwasher.
3. Theosis, or via unitiva. This is an experience of yourself in harmony with the rest of the house, where you fit in like family and it’s really not an effort anymore. The household has infected you with its way of life, and now it’s a part of you.