When I look at the homeless in Hawaiʻi what I see is not homelessness but hopelessness. I see individuals uncertain as to what comes next, individuals whose struggle to simply survive each day has robbed them of any vision for their future. While they are often supportive of one another, like a dog that has been beaten too often they shy away from any involvement with ordinary society, a society that clearly communicates to them that they are failures. In short, they are strangers in their own home, truly homeless.
The homeless, however, are not the only ones who view themselves as hopeless failures; many of us do as well. Because our lives are littered with mistakes and broken relationships, and because many “officially religious” preach that we are called to be perfect, some experience a sense of hopelessness that has nothing to do with living in a tent or on a park bench. The fact is that only God is and can ever be perfect. The rest of us must strive to become more like God. “Perfection” is simply not the point of our spiritual struggle… transfiguration is the point. Transfiguration requires seeing ourselves as we are in order to move away from our self-destructive habits and become more “good”, as God is.
When we speak of perfection we imply that there is a goal to reach. Rather, spiritual struggle is about the journey away from a self-destructive and selfish orientation, a journey towards a forgiving God. “Perfection” is simply not the point, and a wrong way to approach the work that our spiritual transformation requires of us. Part of that transformation has to do with the willingness to start over. One moves into maturity when one stops using past mistakes as an excuse for current inaction. Whether or not one lives in a tent in Hawaiʻi, Life demands that we either grow up or give up. The choice is ours.