Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021
Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed! Funeral services will be held at St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ and at St. Paul’s, Richmond, VA. Dates and times will be announced as soon as they are available

“What is a seeker?”

 

Question & Answer

 
Q: By Gordon
 
I am a “seeker.” I know what that means, but when people ask, “What is a seeker?” I can never find an accurate or concise way to explain it. 
 
A: By Toni Anne Reynolds
Dear Gordon

There is so much to seek in this life we live. I wonder what gets lost when you attempt to make the response concise. As a seeker, there is so much that makes you one, and so much that you are asked to see. Your question reminds me of a quote that cannot accurately be attributed to any one figure, but is often credited to Gautama Buddha. The quote is something like “I am the finger pointing to the moon. Don’t look at me, look at the moon.”  I wonder what good is accuracy when we have to rely on the thin medium of language to express such mystery? I think “what a seeker” is, is just as vast as the “thing” they are seeking. There’s a reason that the greatest mystics of the ages were artists, too. And, I don’t know that any of them told others that they were “seekers”, I think they just did what they did and shared what they saw as they did it. Because, what they sought, and no doubt found, was also not concisely conveyed. So, they relied on beauty to attempt the brevity. Music, paintings, even poems – though they are made of words – were ways to transcend the confines of grammar and logic in order to point to the boundlessness of That-Which-Is-Sought-After (think Hildegard von Bingen, Credo Mutwa, Rainer Maria Rilke, etc.).

Typically, I hear folks identify themselves as a seeker in order to convey their desire to draw closer to the Great Mystery and all of the way it shows up in our day to day lives; a title fit for folk who live beyond religious boundaries, dogmas, historical moments. Maybe it would be of better service to you if you invited the other person to ask you a different question. There’s no reason we have to accept these invitations from others. We can gently offer them to open a different door in our hearts. For example, maybe something like “what happens when you find what you seek?” or even, “have you found what you’ve been seeking?” They assume you haven’t found what it is you seek, so you’re still a seeker. But, is that totally true? I mean, maybe you haven’t found the entirety of what it is that you seek, but I have some confidence that you’ve at least found traces of it. If not, you’d be using your time and attention to do any other number of things. What are the whispers that keep you going? Are those things instead worth sharing when someone asks you the question “what is a seeker?” Because ultimately your path as a seeker is centered on what you seek, not you, the one who is seeking. To be a seeker, in my opinion, is to be the finger that points to the moon. The focus is on the moon.

I wonder what creative means you can tap into in order to give something of an answer to a version of that question “what is a seeker?” How can you tell people, even if it’s not with words, that “what a seeker is” is far less important than what the seeker is pursuing?

~ Toni Anne Reynolds
 
About the Author
Minister Toni Anne Reynolds is committed to singing flesh onto the bones of the Christian tradition by incorporating recently found texts of the ancient world into liturgy, sermons, and poetry. Toni’s Christianity forms a holy trinity with the psychological medicine of Tibetan Buddhism and the eternal Life found in Yoruba traditions. Balanced in an eclectic faith and focused in theology, Toni’s ministry offers a unique perspective on life, theology, and spirituality.

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