It seems to me we spend a lot of time thinking about doing better or ‘getting saved’ and not so much about what we are saved for or saved to.
Marcus Borg emphatically states salvation is not about the afterlife but about this life. In Convictions, written not long before he died, he writes about 6 ways salvation might be imaged. Only one is through forgiveness of sin.
A Spirituality of Life, I thought, would match the results of the types of salvation Borg writes of. He talks of freedom from bondage (out of the Exodus story), returning home (out of the Exile narrative), light in the darkness/healing from blindness, (the man born blind being healed), life being brought out of death, (Easter Sunday), food and drink being available to assuage hunger and thirst.(the parables of the feast)
So what would being saved by being freed feel like? What keeps me bound? Those voices in my head which tell me off, reinforce old rules, and counsel against risk taking or unconventional behaviour. They keep me tied up, tied down, chained and unfree.
If I was to cooperate with those bonds being loosened, I could be free. First I’d need to be conscious of what held me back or in. Rules can be comfortable, non-risk taking can seem really sensible. We can like our little prisons because there isn’t anyone different in there, no one with whom we might disagree. Only we are there and our true nature has been tamed and held down.
If I got out of that little prison….… I could be free to dance. I could be free to hear birdsong coming from the tree outside my room I could revel in something new. I could put colours together which people don’t usually expect, and patterns. I could travel.
Do you notice that people talk a lot about the ‘bad old days’ – when people were unkind or strict or narrow in their thinking? When women weren’t allowed to hold office or children had to be seen and not heard?
Why don’t we talk about how much we like now? Now we are freer than we were? Or how much we are going to enjoy life when we are even freer than we are now, when we have discovered how to truly fly?
Years ago I was on Brighton beach in Christchurch, (NZ). I was in my forties. A much younger man was trying to get his kite surfer going along the beach. He needed someone to throw up the nylon to catch the breeze. I volunteered and for quite a while, we tried again and again.
I didn’t know him from Adam, as they say, and he didn’t know me from Eve, but we had a good (temporary) relationship focused on getting him flying along the beach.
When I went home and discovered all the sand in my hair and clothes I felt really good. I had been free to respond in the moment, free to interact with someone new, free to try something I had never done before. I had learned to fly freely in the sun and wind and air. Free at last!
Look at Borg’s other five ways being saved and think of how you might be like on the other side of those kinds of salvation, as someone who has returned home, who has seen the light in the darkness, who has found the food and drink they need for their hunger or thirst, as someone who has discovered life springing from that which was dead.
Look at what might form a Spirituality of Life for you.