Friday, October 31, 2008

Stock Market Spirituality

I'm an introvert by nature. Recently though, I've been wondering if I'm becoming more of an extrovert. When I compare myself to who I was 4 years ago, there seems to be some evidence that this could be.

One quality of extroverts is the tendency to talk before thinking. They sort of learn what they think along with everyone else, as they hear themselves saying it. This happened to me Thursday.

Before I go into that though: I've claimed in the past that I'm terrible at coming up with metaphors. I would love to be good at drawing analogies to explain my ideas or argue my viewpoint, but I'm just not good at coming up with analogies in the moment. This is frustrating because if I pause to brainstorm one, it's too late. Someone else jumps in and the conversation runs in another direction. Anticipating this, I'll panic and blurt out, "Well, it's sort of like...," hoping something will come in the meantime. Invariably, I end up sounding foolish ("'Seems,' madam? Nay, it is. I know not 'seems'"), filling in the blank with the first thing that comes to mind, which turns out to be something like "a kitten" or "cerebral palsy." Exactly.

So, carpooling home yesterday, I found myself talking like an extrovert and sounding like an analogy microwave.

"I think that a lot of people my age approach spirituality the way investors approach the stock market. Everyone's wondering what the next big bubble will be that will help them stay on top. But that's the exact reason we're faced with this financial crisis. We're so concerned with the next big thing that we don't have a long-term strategy for investing toward growth. We have this idea that spirituality is about getting to the next big high before too long. Too long and we'll find ourselves in a desert. We can't endure any sort of sustained downturn or valley. We need to be worried about planting and growing, not uncovering the next spiritual moment."

I was already mixing my metaphors.

My carpooling compadre said, "I think our faith might be better off if more of us had gardens. We need to think about spirituality less in terms of commerce and more in terms of cultivation."

I agreed. I think that's a transition that we struggle to make in our 20s. We've experienced a lot of bubbles in our spirituality so far, bolstered mostly by hormones and broadening experience. Now, we're into a sustained pattern of adulthood, and figuring out what a faithful spirituality looks like by contrast is something we're forced to explore or abandon. Exploring what faith will look like over the next 50-60 years is daunting. But it's especially daunting if we believe we have to keep boiling up a zeal and fervor of spiritual bubbles.

When we shop around for the best bubble, it becomes a spree that's dictated, seemingly, by luck. We have no active role in making the big find for our spirituality except to search, sometimes desperately. But when we think of it like a garden, we can be much more proactive. A lifetime's worth of activity in fact. And yet there's also much that is out of our control as well. The apostle of analogies captured it this way. "One person plants the seed. Another waters it. But God makes it grow." I think that says it all.

1 comment:

Mike Moore said...

Nice post.

I totally "invest" in your metaphor. But I agree, I would rather set "roots" in it so I can "harvest some righteousness," to be more "fruitful."