July 25, 2018

What is the shape of your desire?

I recently listened to a sermon online that caught me off guard; the preacher was addressing Salome’s dancing in front of Herod and the aftermath of John’s beheading. First, Salome was a girl—the Greek is explicit in that—of perhaps twelve or younger. When she dances in front of Herod, it isn’t the sensual dance that comes to mind, but rather a little girl performing for her parents. 

The reason I explain that is this: A twelve year old is told that she can have anything she wants and she has no idea how to answer. When we’re young, we have very little idea of what it is that we actually want, what we actually desire. Our goals are simple (and not-so-simple) issues such as food, water, love, and acceptance. Those are our desires, the only things we KNOW we want. Salome exhibits this in her next move. Not knowing what to ask for, she goes to mom and says, “What should I get?” Her real question is, “What am I to desire?”

Human nature, being broken and self-serving sometimes, shows it’s darker side in this moment. When a child asks what to desire from the world, her parent answers…

Violence. Hatred. Power. Revenge.

I’d never thought of that story in exactly those terms, before. How many Salome’s are running up to us everyday and seeking an answer to that very question, “What am I to desire,” or more importantly, “What is the shape of my desire?” I wonder if we have asked ourselves that question lately. I know that, for me, this is a difficult area. I want to be the best version of myself, possible. Yet I want to ‘belong’. I don’t want the world to ridicule me or cast me out, so sometimes I default to the expectations and whimsy of shallow mindsets around me. But I know that is not the shape of my true desire. And that is certainly not what I wish for the generations asking me the same question.

Take a moment to think on that, this week. What is the shape of your desire? Do you desire to love and seek out the lost, lonely, and left out? Or have you found yourself unwillingly or maybe even unwittingly turning a blind eye to the true desires you have yet to seek? The preacher said a line within his sermon that stuck with me, and I’m still wrestling with it; he said, “It either starts today, or it doesn’t start at all.” My mind tells me that, “there’s always tomorrow,” and yet, I have to agree. Tomorrow turns into today faster and faster, the older I get. So perhaps he’s right—perhaps that change must begin to take place now so that we can teach our children how to desire rightly, love justly and do mercy.

Fr. Sean+