Learning Our Limits – Part 9: Readings – 1
Gandhi’s spinning wheel was his center of gravity in life. It was the great leveler in his human experience. When he returned from the great public moments in his life, the spinning-wheel experience restored him to his proper sense of proportion, so that he was not falsely swelled with pride due to the cheers of the people. When he withdrew from the moments of encounter with kings and government leaders, he was not tempted to think of himself in some inflated fashion when he moved to the work of the wheel.
The spinning wheel was always a reminder to Gandhi of who he was and what the practical things in life were all about. In engaging in this regular exercise, he was resisting all the forces of his public world that tried to distort who he knew himself to be.
Gandhi was by no means a Christian, but what he was doing at the wheel is an indispensable lesson for any healthy Christian. For he shows us what every man or woman who wants to move in a public world without being pressed into its mold needs to do. We, too, need the spinning-wheel experience—the ordering of our private worlds so that they are constantly restructured in strength and vitality.
As Thomas Kelly says, “We are trying to be several selves at once, without all our selves being organized by a single, mastering Life within us.” Again he says, “Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center. Each one of us can live such a life of amazing power and peace and serenity, of integration and confidence and simplified multiplicity, on one condition—that is, if we really want to.”
And that is the condition with which we must finally deal. Do we really want order within our private worlds? Again, do we want it?
If it is true that actions speak louder than words, it would appear that the average Christian does not really seek an ordered private world as a top priority. It would seem that we prefer to find our human effectiveness through busyness, frantic programming, material accumulation, and rushing to various conferences, seminars, film series, and special speakers.
In short, we try to bring order to the inner world by beginning with activity in the outer one. This is exactly the opposite of what the Bible teaches us, what the great saints have shown us, and what our dismal spiritual experiences regularly prove to us.
Somewhere John Wesley is quoted as saying of life in his public world, “Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with calmness of spirit.”
Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald, Oliver Nelson, pages 178-179.
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