Most of you know that I was raised Catholic. I thought all the clergy took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. However, I’m taking a class right now that says that ain’t so! According to our teacher, many spiritual folks don’t realize that there’s a cultural belief, or something in the race consciousness that says to be spiritual, you must take these vows. What the heck was I thinking?
Poverty doesn’t just mean that people will watch to see what car I drive. It means that if there’s something good going on, I should apologize for it. Who am I, a servant of the Divine, to take the best of what’s offered? Now, as I type that, it sounds ridiculous, but I’ve caught myself explaining that my new(ish) car was actually a gift from my mom’s estate. Oh, and I really needed a new car. Oh, and it’s ecologically sound and I got the most basic model. See where I’m going with this? I took the vow at some point, albeit unconsciously.
And then there’s chastity. Want to end an awkward date? Or get out of having to go on one in the first place? Tell him you’re a minister. Go ahead. No really. Best if you wait until he’s been flirting, or even better, told a dirty joke. I was raised Catholic, remember? Clergy doesn’t date. Now that’s just me, but I’m willing to point out that “hedonist” is usually not a compliment. In modern terms, then, chastity means not enjoying sensual pleasures, like silk pj’s or really good wine. It can mean lots of things to lots of people, but I’m off to confession because last night’s chicken was truly exceptional, so you’ll have to figure that one out yourself.
And that leads to obedience. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do being told what to do. I don’t react well at all to being given orders. Do you know a meta-physician who does? Neither do I. Our teacher explained that in modern terms, obedience means needing to work really, really hard in order to be a good servant. I’m a spiritual person so I must get up super early to meditate and read self-help books and scripture (where’s the sarcasm font on this thing?). To be a good person, or at least one who is spiritual, our culture says you can’t get angry or impatient. One who is obedient to the Divine does not rest when there is more work to do (and there will always be more work to do).
So those are the vows. Are you recognizing yourself in any (or goddess help us, all) of these? What would your life look like if you excused yourself from those vows? How about all the other ways we play small in this life? You don’t have to go live large right now – don’t freak out. Just think about it.
I’ll be over here, with my glass of wine and some chocolate. Doing my penance.