the Spirituality of Transformation

The terms “transformation process” and “spirituality” often convey a wide spectrum of meanings in- and out- of Christendom. In the context of Christian understanding of humanity as spiritual beings first, and consistent with my ‘companioning’ theodicy, I think the phrase “process of transformation” is best defined from the psychodynamic perspective (à la Gostecnik, 1997, 56-8):

… the process of transformation is a process of opening and deepening manifested as a movement from within … it is a search for the inner strength which is exactly what the process of therapy is all about. We see the transformation… and feel the power and energy flowing from deep within the individual’s inner self just as we can re-experience the scriptural sense of Chronos and Kairos: Chronos — God’s promised redemption and Salvation after a duration of pain, suffering and crisis, and Kairos — an opportunity of spiritual as well as psychological transformation.

Moreover, Benner (1989, 23) considers the role of spirituality in change: “God meets us within the depths of ourselves and it is here that we relate to God and are changed by this relationship… the transformation must be empowered and directed by a change from within…” In this, the process of transformation takes on a relational aspect. I’ve always favored Benner’s (1989, 21) ‘psychological’ perspective of “spirituality”:

Spirituality might be defined as our response to a deep and mysterious human yearning for self-transcendence… a yearning to find our place. Within this understanding, human spiritual longing is an unconscious searching for our roots… our roots as human creatures. [It] is an awareness that we have forgotten who we are and where we belong. It also seems to be a place of surrender, integration and identity. Like a… piece of a jigsaw puzzle placed into proper arrangement with the rest of the puzzle, we suddenly discover who we are and where we belong.

Defined in this way, transformational spirituality becomes a quest to find our place through self transcendence and surrender; along with the quest for integration of our being and for the discovery of our true self through identity (‘whose’ we are as much as ‘who’ we are) and integration (true communion). Christian spirituality begins and grows out of a life of interiority, although the reference point for self is not itself, but God, who is outside and beyond the self.

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