Right across the street from the Jubilee! Community
in Asheville, NC -- the wonderful hosts of the event last month for Creation Spirituality Communities -- is an outdoor climbing wall: the kind of building-side challenge that is speckled with oddly-shaped and variously-coloured blobs that serve as climbing "holds."
The design of this ilk of a climbing wall is such that there is no single correct way in which one climbs the wall. It would be fair to say that sideways, up, down and all manner of diagonal are just as valid as climbing experiences. The design lends itself much more to valuing the experience of being on the wall, rather than simply getting over the wall.
This resonates for me because Creation Spirituality values diversity of experience. It values, for example, Deep Ecumenism, which recognizes, affirms and seeks out the wisdom that emerges from within all spiritual traditions. Creation Spirituality is not about "my way or the highway," or "if you're not with us, you're against us." Instead, Creation Spirituality affirms that in the dance of a spirituality of compassion, we may have learned our dance steps from Christianity, or from Islam, or from quantum physics, or from a child, or the Milky Way, an earthworm, a sculpture, Kermit the Frog, and the Tao Te Ching. There is no telling where and how each one of us comes to our understanding and practice of a spirituality of compassion; it is only likely that each one of has done so differently, and this, in Creation Spirituality , is celebrated as an enrichment to all.
Contrast this kind of climbing wall with a climbing peg board. (Picture at right - and no, I know the resemblance is uncanny, but that's not me. I have less hair.) This kind of set up is only accomplished by those with strong arms (generally a male-centric characteristic amongst mammals...); a climbing wall like the one in Asheville can work for people with strengths in their upper body, lower body, left side, right side... and creative courage. I think the peg board is to modernity what the climbing wall is to postmodernity. In the modern era, rationalistic exactitude, dogma and exclusivity reigned; in the postmodern era, hospitality, diversity and creativity resound. Creation Spirituality is more at home in the postmodern era.
The analogy to the climbing wall is echoed, I'd argue, in education, as we increasingly understand and embrace the Multiple Intelligences model: the recognition that each of us is intelligent in different ways. This model alters the question "how intelligent are you?" to become "how are you intelligent?". We are each a mixture of intelligences that have various strengths within us: spatial, mathematical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, verbal, musical and on and on... I think these understandings are some of the gifts of postmodernity.
On another note, the prevalance of voices that inform Creation Spirituality from the pre
modern age (e.g. Eckhart, Hildegard, Julian, Mechtild, Rumi...) suggest that the modern era was not one that very easily embraced the principles that we recognize as the music of Creation Spirituality. But it also suggests that now that we're moving beyond the modern era, the time is ripe for Creation Spirituality to flourish. So... climb on!
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