The boys at the bus stop

The restless soul wants more.

by Marjorie George 

A whole passel of kids are standing at the corner in my neighborhood, waiting for the school bus – maybe 10 or 12 of them, middle school kids, newly entered into the rebellion years of teenagers.

There’s lots of good-natured teasing and shoving and boys against girls and doing what 13- and 14-year-olds do. Most of them are dressed in the required “uniform” of their middle school – dark Docker-style pants and white polo shirts – the school’s attempt to civilize them. One boy, the smallest of them, actually, needs to show off this morning. He strolls out to the middle of the street, daring the oncoming cars to run over him, scooting back to the curb at the last minute. The drivers honk disapprovingly at him as they slow down and pass. He loves it.

The kids are doing what they are supposed to be doing at this point in their maturing process. It’s maddening for parents and teachers, and sometimes – too often – it ends up in horrible tragedy. But most of them will turn out to be responsible adults 10 or 15 years from now.  Right now, they are challenging authority, pushing against the rules to the almost-break-point. They’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing; but, oh, Lord, don’t tell them that.

Just so, sometimes the soul has to push against its confines in order to grow. Sometimes it has to question what it has always assumed to be true. Sometimes the God we think we know turns out not to be that God at all. How often, after spending time with a person we had known only as an acquaintance but who is now becoming a friend, do we find that we did not know that person very well at all?  

Writer Ken Wilbur, in the article Translation versus Transformation from his book One Taste, laments that the spirituality of the West, particularly in America, often takes the mystical traditions from the East into the American idiom where “their profound depth is flattened out, their radical demand is diluted, and their potential for revolutionary transformation is squelched.”  The deep transformation that Christ calls us to, the roaring passion of inquiry and investigation, translates instead into something “resembling the soothing burble of a California hot tub.” No risk there, no need to disturb (pass the wine, please).

The restless soul wants more. The Spirit calls to our spirit, “Come out. See it from a new perspective. Consider some broader possibilities. Risk, relying on God’s tether to hold you tight when you venture too far.”

Lest you think I am fomenting revolution (which I might do if I could get it funded), the movement here is not away from God but toward God. We move away from those things that separate us from God, away from an existence that crowds God out of our lives. We move toward relying on God more than we rely on our money, our possessions, our need to be seen as successful in the eyes of the world. Revolutionary, indeed. The Fall/winter 2011 issue of Reflections magazine (read it here) considers things such as retreating, taking Sabbath, learning to slow down as ways to begin to make this happen.

This is new stuff for most of us. This is the “revolutionary transformation” of which Wilbur speaks. Dare we?

Pray for me, and I will pray for you, and we will all pray for the kids at the bus stop, that we have the courage to risk and the wisdom to know how far.

Marjorie George is editor of Reflections magazine and ReflectionsOnline. Reach her at marjorie.george@dwtx.org or leave your comments below.