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“A robin red breast in a cage,

Puts all heaven in a rage.”

William Blake


Trying to uphold the impossible image of a perfect Christian is probably something that most of us can relate to, having tried at some stage to conform in our thinking and/or behaviour to what was wanted, expected and acceptable to the Church.


When any of us tries to force ourselves (knowingly or not) into a box that doesn't fit, be it faith, job, friendship, whatever, more often than not our spirits mutiny; the fall-out is a slow, creeping death from deep within, of which we're often not even conscious. People can use quite graphic images to describe how this experience has been for them:

  • it's like being stuck in a can of sardines, all lined up with no way of moving
  • I feel like a jack-in-a-box
  • it's like being tied in a straight-jacket

As our spirits speak to us, and dare I say God's spirit speaks to us, we wake up to our denial and aching limbs. The cramped conditions become increasingly unliveable and there is a sense of coming to a place, of God bringing us to a place, where we need to break free and journey into the unknown; into fully discovering and expressing our personalities, ideas and opinions; into further adventures of life and spirituality.


Spirituality may well defy definition, but it has to do with life, lived life, embraced life, real life. It involves an intertwining and interaction between body, mind, heart and spirit. There's an Indian proverb which says:

"everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person."


We get to know our true selves, the good, the bad and the ugly and learn to accept, nurture and appreciate everything that makes us us. We are our past, present and future; at any moment we are what we have been, are and will become. Perhaps as we grow in our knowledge of ourselves we grow in our knowledge of God, and so as we explore and live as we truly are so we journey into God - I think so.  Anais Nin puts it this way “The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.”


The journey is not one of self-absorption but has a profound impact on the way we live and our interactions with the world. It is not an easy road, perhaps the hardest one of all, for it is a journey into wholeness and into holiness.


“Spirituality is a lot like a natural homing instinct. It is flying home to the place of my true identity and purpose – the “I am” place. Only from that place can I live life to the full – in all its abundance. Only from that place can I be strengthened for the journeys of life.” Maggie Smith+


Donia Macartney-Coxson



+ From Spirituality is a lot like that in Refresh,

Spirituality Is…A Journal of Contemplative Spirituality,

Summer 2003, Volume 3, No 2.

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