Word for the Week
September 18, 2022
Growing in Faith
September 18, 2022
True desire is non-possessive. It is an openness to future, to possibility, to the other— whether a human other or God. This is true of sexual desire too if it is not simply infatuation. Desire is as much about self-giving as about wishing to receive. That is why desire is such a wonderful metaphor for prayer. As non-possessive, our deep desire has no limit (for it touches inﬁnity) and equally does not seek to limit what it reaches out towards. The way of true desire is a way of attentive, contemplative awareness of myself, other people and the world around—and, in all of them, God. As such, it is not just a self-indulgent journey inwards, but is simultaneously a movement outwards.
Contemplative prayer and action do not oppose each other. Rather, each is the precondition of the other. The way of desire, therefore, also seeks the transformation of our relationships—from a tendency to be self-serving to being increasingly non-possessive, non-oppressive, non-hierarchical. To allow ourselves to touch deep desire is to open ourselves to being purged of thoughtless and self-centered wanting. This is profoundly challenging of all my ways of seeking to define others in terms of myself or my group. That is why truly contemplative people touch, with compassion and with pain, the heart of their own self, the edge of infinity and equally all reality around them. That is why the way of desire is also a way of conversion and transformation.
— from Befriending our Desires, by Philip Sheldrake (2002)
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