Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thoughts on Transformation (Part 2)

Continuing with The Wild Reed’s 2010 Advent series, I share today excepts from Flora Slosson Wuellner’s contribution to the March/April 1991 issue of Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life. This particular issue focuses on transformation, and Flora’s contribution is an insightful reflection entitled “Transformation: Our Fear, Our Longing.”


We are surrounded, overwhelmed, battered, swept along by outer change. The inner self adapts, adjusts, survives, but too often does not undergo any deep transformation. We have reacted rather than acted.

There are many forms of both spirituality and relationship which anesthetize our sense of powerlessness. Sometimes we are tempted to join a faith or enter a relationship which invites us to surrender our identity, to relinquish our freedom and responsibility of choice, and to merge ourselves with the identity of others. Sometimes, on the other hand, we are invited into spiritualities or relationships in which we are offered total control. We are taught methods of manipulative power over everything and everybody.

These extremes and their various adaptations do not enable us to face the deep challenge of change: “While all events and persons around me change, am I able to change with power from my center rather than be swept along helplessly?”

This is the great, grave distinction between change and transformation. Change refers to adaptation, reaction, without necessarily involving newness of being. Transformation involves much more than mere adaptation to outer manipulation. Transformation implies new being, a new creative energy flowing from the center which acts with creative power upon surrounding events.

When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God, he used many symbols of transformation: growing plants, the action of the yeast within the dough, marriage, the act of birth, the action of fire, light, and wind. When Paul spoke of our rebirth in Christ, he spoke of the transformation as a new creation: “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, NRSV).

This is what is offered by God through Christ: transformation, new creation rather than change, growing from our deep center, expanding our empowered freedom even in the midst of the power of outer events. When our inner selves waken, stretch, stand up, move out, make choices, our terror of change becomes the hunger, thirst, and ecstasy of growing . . . [and we see] the process of transformation no longer as overwhelming assault from the outside, but as ecstatic (though often painful) unfolding from within.

God’s promise of transformation is not a demand: “Clean up your act . . . pull yourself together . . . I want to see your room spotless from now on . . . You’d better produce a decent report card . . .” God’s promise is the ecstatic invitation of lover to beloved: “Come, join yourself to me, and from our togetherness there will come forth the new creation!”

– Flora Slosson Wuellner
“Transformation: Our Fear, Our Longing”
Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life
March/April 1991
pp. 8-9

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thoughts on Transformation (Part 1)
Jesus: Path-Blazer of Radical Transformation
In the Garden of Spirituality – Eckhart Tolle

Image: "Transformation" by Ali Miner.

1 comment:

Mareczku said...

Michael, just want to let you know that I mentioned you on a site. One man was going on about how all men with SSA come from horrible families, blah, blah, blah. I told him about you and what a great family you had. I didn't mention you by name but referred to you as a gay Catholic writer. You are an inspiration and thank you so much for sharing your family, and the love that you all share, with the readers here.