A wise woman of the Spirit, Evelyn Underhill, claimed that most of us spend our lives “conjugating three verbs: to want, to have, and to do. Craving, clutching, and fussing, we are kept in perpetual unrest.”
To want. Sometimes we can name our desires: friendship, excitement, diversion, beauty, fun, peace, freedom, love. Other times, we don’t have a clue about what we want; all we know is that we’re seeking but not finding, searching but not discovering, and hungering without being satisfied.
To have. We seem to think that the more we have, the stronger and safer we will be, that we only have worth if we own valuable things, and that we only belong if we accumulate belongings. Sadly, though, we can have almost everything we ever wanted and learn that it isn’t enough.
To do. We run and rush through days with too many demands, trying to meet everyone’s expectations and living as slaves to the clock and the calendar.
Underhill also said that the most fundamental verb in life is the one we most ignore: “to be”: “Being, not wanting, having, and doing, is the essence of the spiritual life.”
God invites us away from doing which does not express our honest-to-God identities, from having which interferes with our freedom, and from wanting which does not touch our deepest desire, which is to be known and loved for who we most truly are.
At the end of his Second Letter to the Corinthians, Paul says that we live in the “communion of the Holy Spirit.” He means that God has welcomed us into the heart of the Divine Being.
I once heard historian Steven Ambrose talk about the Lewis and Clark expeditions which began in St. Louis. He said: “There where the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers meet is the center of the continent and the most important place on the continent.”
“The communion of the Holy Spirit” is where the love of God and the grace of Jesus come together; it’s the center of reality and the most important place in the universe. It’s a place of being where it is possible for us to be and become--to become and to be--the people God dreams we will be and the people we’ve always wanted to be.