Archimedes (c. 287—c. 212 BC), a Greek philosopher and mathematician, inspired the familiar aphorism, “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the whole earth with a lever.”  Our fixed point—the place upon which we stand as our True Self—is steady, centered, poised, and rooted. To be contemplative, we have to have a slight distance from the world, to allow time for withdrawal from business as usual, for going into what Jesus calls “our private room” (Matthew 6:6). However, in order for this not to become escapism, we have to remain quite close to the world at the same time, loving it, feeling its pain and its joy as our pain and our joy. So the fulcrum, the balancing point for our lever, must be in the real world.
And what is our lever? I have talked and written a great deal about contemplation and True Self, but not as much about the lever, perhaps because there are so many delivery systems! As Paul so beautifully says, “Now there are varieties of spiritual gifts (charismaton), but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of ministries (diakonon), but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities (energematon), but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
It seems to me that much of the proper work of the church and spirituality should be discerning and empowering people’s actual gifts. There doesn’t seem to be much discernment of gifts, even in seminaries, as to whether one really has a gift for Christian leadership, reconciling, healing, preaching, or counseling. (Most priests and pastors were ordained without ever having led a single person to love, to God, or to faith; and many do not seem to have a natural gift for this.) We seem to ordain people who want to be ordaine