Dislodged or Detached?

By Brandon Booth – www.signpostinn.org

For millennia, wise guides have encouraged “detachment” from the world as a sure method of spiritual development. The idea has such a long pedigree that there must be some extraordinary merit to the term. But I confess that the word bothers me. It conjures up images of scraggly, starving men sitting on top of columns in the desert, or of self-flagellating monks in dingy cells. 

“Detachment” makes me feel that my spiritual life should be one of “less” and “less” until it’s so rarified that I’m not even a spirit playing a harp on a cloud but the cloud itself. Hardly the spiritual path I want, or indeed, what I think most of the ancient sages intended.

Instead, I think they were seeking a path to something more, not less. Detachment is not the goal, but a means. 

I think of Abram being called by God to “leave” his land and his family and “to go” to a land that God promised to show him. We might say that God asked Abram to “detach” from the world he knew, but I think there is a better word. Abram was called to “dislodge.” 

“Dislodge” comes from an old French word that means to “dis-encamp.” It has the sense that one is already on a journey and has made a temporary camp. Sooner or later we need to “dis-lodge” and strike out on the next stage of our adventure. Why? Because there is more to explore!

So, I can find the strength to detach because I’m not leaving my home, only a temporary lodging place. My true home lies ahead of me, not behind. To cling desperately to this particular lodging is the truer loss. It prevents me from experiencing the more that God has for me. To be sure, letting go of anything is a loss, and all losses need to be honored and grieved, but I need to let go of whatever I’m clutching right now in order to open my arms and embrace what is new and more.