It is so easy to feel shame at little things that happen to unravel our cool, our clumsiness or flustering or worse. Loss of control of things in our lives can do this.Sometimes when I am being my most civilised and efficient my very humanness seems to trip me up.
The other day I caught a bus to the Cultural Centre for an evening at the art gallery. Wearing nice clothes and shoes I wandered in the gallery among the art works with my glass of wine. I felt so pleased that I had made the effort and it was a lovely experience. Then it was time to catch the bus home. The first hiccup was to realise that my bus route had finished for the evening. I consulted a fellow traveller and the solution was to catch two other buses. The first bus arrived, so far so good. Then as I hopped off the bus at my destination the card swipe machine said INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. Bother! Fortunately it was in the city and a nearby newsagent topped up my card. Because time was now short I ran the two blocks to the next bus stop in my nice clothes and shoes…not so cool… The bus was there but on boarding I couldn't find the card that I had only just topped up! I felt silly. Eventually I found the card but in doing so accidentally flicked another of my cards across the bus floor. After scrambling to pick it up I found a seat and composed myself so as to regain some poise and dignity!
As I think about this experience I am confronted with my humanness… I am not made in straight perfect lines and my actions are not those of machine-like precision and poise. I am a living creature, not a machine nor a model of cultured perfection. I am a part of the complex, nuanced living Cosmos, created by God and delighted in. This is something to wonder about, not to be shamed by. In fact my experience is evidence of my creatureliness and so is to be embraced and rejoiced in, not hidden.
My being vulnerable and ‘imperfect’ with the bus travel allowed space for three people to relate to me, the fellow traveller, the newsagent and the bus-driver, all in kind and helpful ways. Being a creature and not machinelike means being open to relationship all around me. It enables me to be open to relationship with God. ‘The creator relates directly with the creature and the creature relates directly with the creator'1 Creatureliness allows for community.
1Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises
(Image from Pixabay)
Kerry Holland is a practising artist, a Graduate of the Arrupe Program, and an experienced Giver of the Full Spiritual Exercises. She is interested in the expression of Christian spirituality and human experience in the making of art and the dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises. She has a BSc in Physics, and Dip Ed first teaching mathematics and science, and now teaching art. Kerry is an Anglican and married with three children and two grandchildren. She enjoys working ecumenically in this ministry of Ignatian Spirituality.