Seeking a Conversion of Heart

By Mike Soika

Are we spiritual beings having a human experience or are we human beings having a spiritual experience, is the famous question asked by Jesuit priest and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I believe it is the former, that we are spiritual beings at our core. But, taking it one step further, I also believe that everything within the Cosmos has a spiritual foundation; that the spirit of the Divine is woven throughout the universe and that God is the weaver.

If it is true that the Spirit is woven through all things and for all time, then there can be none other than a spiritual solution to any problem. In this context, all problems become spiritual problems.

A few years ago, I was having an online conversation with a conservative Christian friend about what the bible says on the matter of the division between church and state. My friend – a bible literalists – was adamant that there is a clear demarcation between church and state, citing the new testament passage of Mark 12: 13-17 where Jesus takes a coin with the likeness of Caesar and announces that all should “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The question Jesus answered was about paying taxes. What I believe he was getting at is this: What in the cosmos does not emanate from God? If you are arguing over whether the religious should pay taxes, you are focused on the wrong question. If everything comes from God, what does it matter? Pay the silly taxes to keep yourself out of harm’s way – but don’t lose sight of the fact that everything comes from the Divine.

From my perspective, Jesus was saying that everything is spiritually focused; that we actually live in a spiritual world but get lost and confused in our worldly machinations.

A Quaker F/friend of mine has spent many an anxious moment pondering what can a person do to raise the consciousness of the general public – and of our leaders and decision makers – about the pending environmental disaster unfolding within our lifetime and most certainly within the lifetime of our children and grandchildren. We Quakers believe there is “that of God” within everyone, and that the voice of the Divine leads and guides each of us. If that is true – and I believe it is – then God is at this very moment whispering to those recalcitrant decision makers that the earth is crying out; that they need to pay attention; that they need to act. Now.

If the Spirit is active and present within every person, then what is needed is a conversion of heart. What is needed is a spiritual revival to awaken all to the call of the Divine on climate change; on gun control; on voter repression; on race, on equality, and on all other issues of justice and decency.

How do we get there, how do we get to this global conversion of heart? We pray… for ourselves, for those who are or will be impacted by these issues, and for the decision makers – that they will quiet themselves enough to hear the faint whisper of the Divine and act on it. Is prayer enough? No. If prayer were enough, these seemingly intractable issues would be resolved.

We must listen to the voice of God within our own heart and act on what we hear. We must become models of a people who are spiritually focused and who believe – whole heartedly – that the answer to all problems is spiritual. After all, we are a spiritual people living in a spiritual world, seeking a spiritual solution.

Perhaps renowned spiritual leader Henri Nouwen said it best: “Every time in history that men and women have been able to respond to the events of their world as an occasion to change their hearts, an inexhaustible source of generosity and new life has been opened, offering hope far beyond the limits of human prediction.”

We must pray. We must act. We must believe that our prayers and actions will be enough. And then, we must give over everything else to the Divine.