The gifts of the kingdom community pack a punch. They need to in a world which neglects or rejects them on such an enormous scale. That ‘punch’ is what I call ‘spirituality’. Evelyn Underhill describes spirituality as that which puts us in touch with Reality. How can we describe what such a punch feels like? Because if we don’t experience life, liberation, love and learning in our guts so to peak, they remain just another set of abstract theological labels.
To grasp the power behind the 4Ls, we need to tap into experiences of those in touch with Reality across the whole Christian spectrum – here are five quotes from very different sources to show what I mean.
On the gift of life – from Celtic spirituality of over a thousand years ago.
Thanks to Thee, O God, that I have risen to-day,
To the rising of this life itself;
May it be to Thine own glory, O God of every gift…
[de Waal, E. (1996) The Celtic Way of Prayer. London: Hodder and Stoughton, p. 175]
On the gift of liberation – from a Roman Catholic source –
Take Lord and receive all my liberty (my italics), my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You gave it all to me; to you I return it. All is yours, dispose of it entirely according to your will. Give me only love of you, together with your grace for that is enough for me.
[The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola. Hughes, G. and Ivens, M. (translator) (2004) Leominster: Gracewing (para. 234, p. 68)]
About the gift of love from a Methodist writer –
O thou who camest from above
the pure celestial fire to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart!
[Charles Wesley in Singing the Faith (2011). London: Hymns Ancient & Modern
Singing the Faith, 2011, No. 564]
About the gift of learning from the Society of Friends –
Be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary experience of your daily life. Spiritual learning continues throughout life, and often in unexpected ways.
[Quaker Faith and Practice (QFP) (third edition) (2005) London: Religious Society of Friends (1.02.7)]