Archbishop Desmond Tutu on 'Made For Goodness'

We may apply our creativity to good ends or ill. Human artistry can be used to decorate a home or forge a banknote. Human resourcefulness can combine the chemicals to purify a well or poison a watercourse. The beautiful gardens at the Palace of Versailles in France and at Mount Vernon in Virginia were the fruit of human inventiveness. The minefields that still kill and maim in Angola and Cambodia were also planned and planted by human beings.

In our creativity we are like God. We are also like God in our freedom. God is self-constrained in relationship to us. God leaves us free to choose how we apply our gifts and talents. Like a good parent, God renders God's-self powerfully powerless in the face of our choices. When we see the pride shining in a mother's eyes as her little darling squeals out his first clarinet recital, we can imagine the face of God as God surveys our successes. When we watch the pained calm of a parent listening to a report of his child's misdeeds, we can imagine the anguished eyes of God as God sees us stumble, fall, and fail. In all the diverse expressions of humanity we are made like God.

We are made not only like God but also for God. Planted in the center of our being is a longing for the holy. "Don't you know," the Christian letter writer Saint Paul asks, "that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit?" People of faith treat a temple with the utmost respect and reverence. Even for those of no faith there are places that are accorded the status of temples; for some it might be their house or garden, into which they pour all of their effort and love. My wife, Leah, hates housework but will joyfully spend endless hours tending her garden. Each of our homes has been lovely and well maintained, but our gardens have always been true spiritual oases, places for the soul to be refreshed. For some people it might be an office or workshop that is accorded the status of temple: it is maintained with a kind of reverence.

We are temples of the Holy Spirit. Not just our bodies but our very selves, the essence of our being, is the place in which the Spirit resides. The Spirit within us calls out to God to find its place and its home. Saint Augustine says, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you." Being made for God means, for us, that anything less than God will not suffice. We are hungry for God, but we don't always know that it is God that we crave. Often we are like the woman who stands at the open refrigerator door at three o'clock in the morning knowing that she is hungry for something but not knowing what it is that she needs, so she shuts the mouth of her hunger with something that merely stupefies but does not satisfy. We stand around feeling a vague dissatisfaction and having no idea of what it is that we actually want. So we shut the mouth of our desire for God with busyness, or with things -- gadgets, gizmos, trinkets, and treasures -- and emerge at the other end recognizing that what we have is not what we need.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...