Fourth Understanding

4. Our spirituality is at the level of being. It is who we are in our truest selves. Our spirituality is developed by seeking to follow the Rule of the community; by pursuing Jesus in spiritual intimacy; by developing a secret history with God. We encourage the reading of the great adepts of spirituality in the Christian and other traditions. We are a charismatic community and encourage members to seek spiritual gifts; the Holy Spirit is generous in distribution. In the Celtic Christian tradition the Spirit was depicted as the “wild goose.” In the Lindisfarne Community, we seek to follow the wild goose, wherever she may lead us.

“We’re an ontological priesthood,” one of our priests said at an annual retreat. This was powerful to hear. The impact, almost beyond our knowing at first utterance. It has since, in my mind, spring-boarded a lot of discussion and reflection. It is a mirror of the first two sentences in our Fourth Understanding - “Our spirituality is at the level of being. It is who we are in our truest selves.” This is something that has been in my thoughts for quite a long time now. We are organic, integrated beings. This means that the some of the biggest taboos are a fallacy - politics and religion.

I’m sure most of us have heard that we shouldn’t talk about religion or politics in civilized society. But we can’t help it. That is, we are not compartmental people. We can’t leave our politics and religion at home when we go to the office. Those things, and many others, make us who we are “at the level of being.”

It’s with this understanding that the Lindisfarne Community is redefining priesthood. We don’t see ministry as something we do. It is something we are. Too often, it seems, clergy seems to fall into the compartmental view of our lives. We think that we can separate ourselves from ministry by thinking that our service is only at the level of our doing ministry work. Whatever it is - visiting the sick, serving at the Eucharist, presiding at a wedding, etc. - we can fall into the trap of seeing that doing those things are the only times when we’re clergy. The fact is, however, our ordination is a recognition of who we are “at the level of being,” not what we do. What we do reflects who we are. Our “faithful actions” are a demonstration of our being, of who we are at the deepest level.

It’s because of this understanding of an “ontological priesthood” (or in addition to that), that I saw the life of Jesus differently. I saw that he life was just as important as his death and resurrection. I started to see his death in light of his life. That his life was path, the way, for all people. His life was a life of service - of putting others before himself and laying down his life for others. This life of service was (is) who Jesus was (is) “at the deepest level.” It is the life he has called us to live if we are to be his followers. When we follow Christ, we are saying that we too understand that true humanity is to be in service to others whether that’s human or non-human (animals or the earth). We recognize that “at the level of being” is the Light of God, the true Servant of all.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC


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