I love reading about transformation. It seems so hopeful. It seems sensible. What is now, is not trashed but adapted – recycled, if you like, to be more fit for purpose, more relevant for the future. It’s like a makeover or a ‘do-up’ to use Living Channel language.
That’s a practical description. But transformation is also transcendental. The existing material is common, earth bound and mundane. Its transformation seems mysterious. The resulting product is better than the original, sort of, ‘out of this world’.
In my fantasy, transformation happens in a blink of an eye, wave of a wand or snap of the divine fingers. In house makeover programmes this fantasy is bolstered by complete transformation of a house within the week and on the actual TV screen within the hour (minus time for hardware store ads!) It all seems to happen so fast that I empathise with owners who’d lived in the unredeemed property for years without development because they couldn’t afford it or didn’t have energy or time. Then ‘poof!’ 20-30 tradespeople descend; magic happens. “How silly or embarrassed must they be feeling now?”, I wonder.
In reality, transformation takes longer. It is frequently painful, usually messy or dirty bringing upheaval and deep, deep rearrangement. More than only deck chairs are moved. In my experience, after all this mess and dirt, there is a moment of realising the miracle has happened, something has shifted in a major way. Often that can be fleeting, before we move on to the next transformation Life demands of us.
It sounds exhausting, doesn’t it! And it can be – compared with the alternative: soft, cushioned comfort. In the end however, loving comfort will not bring the sharp satisfaction and deep integration for which we yearn, sometimes unconsciously.
Transformation is needed in many places. The Rugby Union is about to plunge into it; each election we wonder if this is the best way democracy can be carried out; any institution you care to name, including the church, needs it. Societal transformation happens only when individuals have allowed transformation to unsettle their own lives. Now there’s a thought!
In Centering Prayer this week – that contemplative half hour which happens each Thursday in the St Andrew’s Centre – the reading contained this thought:
Perhaps you have been meditating for long enough to realise that nothing anyone can say about meditation is ever very satisfactory. If so, you will also know that the only ultimately important thing is that we meditate, treading the path of this pilgrimage each day of our lives.
Talking about a path of this kind can even be dangerous because in the nature of language, it is so easy to imagine that by talking about it we know about it. Yet if we talked about it from now until the end of time we would know almost nothing about it.
Do caterpillars know what will happen in the chrysalis? They seem to just let it happen. Can we let transformation have its demanding, messy way with us? All around us, slowly we are seeing many signs of the transformation called Spring. In the second Sunday of the Creation season, Sonia Groes Petrie will help us see how our attitude to land can be transformed. See you there!
P.S. The biblical narrative in 1000 words can be found here. https://www.standrews.org.nz/category/spirituality/