Within every man is an inner cauldron of desires, or as David Benner describes it a, “inextinguishing burning bush that is at the core of our being.” Our desires keep us “molten.” They are what keeps us moving and awake. Like an unquenchable fire, there is within a restlessness that keeps us from ever getting our deepest desires, passions and longings under control. They will never allow us to be satisfied. Rather then trying to control or ignore our passions, our task as followers of Jesus is to integrate these desires. Ronald Rolheiser observes that the spiritual journey is “about being integrated or falling apart.” When I think of falling apart, I visualize myself being torn in various directions almost against my will. Instead of being a flame for God, I so often go up in flames.
I know that it has taken years for me to become somewhat confortable with becoming aware of my passions and deepest longings. For years I thought that these deep yearnings were sinful; something to avoid or to have crucified as part of my “old nature.” But in these latter days I have been learning to befriend, accept, integrate and at times even rejoice that I am a man with deep, mysterious passions that are a natural part of being a man. I ask each man reading this blog the questions, “What have you done with your passions? How has they shaped of your journey? Most of all, how have you learned to distinguish between godly passions and those passions that you know have gotten you in trouble? I personally have come to believe that the deepest desires in my soul are those that come from God. In my opinion, men need to come together on an honest basis to share their struggles with passionate longings.
The Psalmist was a man who was in touch with this cauldron of desires. For example in Ps 42:1-2 we read, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Now I ask you, is not this a man who is in touch with his passions. So I ask you as a man to consider the proposition that those deep, hidden, mysterious passions, that seem to influence your spiritual life more then you would like to admit, are to be befriended and integrated into your life with God. If our passions are to be integrated they must first be accepted and known. A healthy expression of life in God will help us to gather up all the disparate parts of self. A growing relationship with God will allow us, “to embrace rather than repress our deepest longings and passions and then to draw energy from them to live life with abundance and resilence” (Benner)
Our deepest desires call us to greater heights and greater depths. Desires point us to that which is outside ourselves, to God, while they also invite us to plumb the depths of our being to know the vitality of God’s energy flowing through our lives through the work of His Spirit. Our desires challenge us to move beyond the small, cramped places where we have learned to be comfortable. A healthy life with God is a life of zest and staying glued together, rather then living under control and then coming apart – going up in flames. “As we move toward an integration of our inner being that is based on channeling our vital energies into self-transcendent causes, we are more likely to avoid fragmentation under stress and our lives will possess passion and vitality” (Benner). So men lets not be afraid or deny our passions, but with God’s help and those of other brother, learn to channel and integrate our passions.