Whilst searching online for an unusual Christmas present for my brother I was struck by the number of websites offering me a memorable “experience”. There seems to be something for everyone, whether that is bungee jumping, afternoon tea, a flight in a hot air balloon or gin making. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of these activities but looking at them as a drop-down menu conveyed a rather desperate sense of how far we have all drifted from a pathway of spiritual wellness. In the first world at least, where materialism rules, we desperately fill our lives with possessions, the newest things and latest models, the next labour-saving device, the most amazing experience ever. All of this is just another form of addiction. We numb the pain, fill the void and cope by consumption of goods and experiences hoping that somehow this will leave us fulfilled and whole. But it leaves us hungrier than ever, looking for the next fix.
God and spiritual growth cannot be bought on Amazon nor are they to be found on a Virgin Experiences website. Neither for that matter are they to be found in other sorts of drugs or material experiences. We grow by letting go, by giving away and by emptying ourselves to allow room for God to work. As we have waited through the weeks of advent, we remember Mary, the expectant mother of Jesus who is the exemplar of this. “Let it be to me according to your will,” was her response. By letting go of her own plans or desires and embracing a far bigger picture, one in which God was pleased to dwell, everything became possible. Through her we are all blessed. The pathway for us is the same. We may not be remembered by future generations as she is, but the response is the same. As the saying in recovery goes, let go and let God.