I suspect that most of us think of physical activity when we hear the word agility. In my case it has to do with that quality which has never been attributed to me. Agility in physical activity implies that the person has lithe, flexible moves, making (him) capable of twisting, turning, and bending to do required gymnastics in order to achieve completion of a task. I am awed when I see people with agility; it is a gift. Their bodies seem to be made of rubber. I’m more a plastic man.
Then, of course, there is the agility shown by musicians like pianists, guitarists, and others whose hands move in the way that creates unbelievable sounds. And how about artists who have the agile fingers required to put detail into a painting?
But my Priest and friend, Pam Mott, has captured the word agility lately and has been employing it in a way that makes me stop and think. Her use of the word comes from the arena of mental agility, which has more to do with the quality of mental quickness and facility than physical agility. Perhaps the mental picture to adopt is that of the person using the Rubik’s cube, pictured above, which is has been around since the mid-70’s. It is a mind-bending, finger-twisting game requiring a sharp, agile mind and swift, agile fingers. It requires the skills of memory and logistics to achieve its purposes.
Similarly, mental/spiritual agility is the quality of a mind, coupled with a heart, which is able to twist and bend to defy stagnation. Instead of being frozen into a place which has no flexibility, the agile person is capable of bending and twisting to incorporate changes which come out of nowhere. There is a quality of curiosity about the agile person. To quote the old adage, the agile person is one who doesn’t ask “Why?” but is more inclined to ask “Why not?”
There is much in our fast-paced world which requires us to be agile in our thinking. Technology is changing with a rapidity which defies many and leaves them stuck in old thinking. The same is true for theology, in which new challenges which have never been faced by theological inquiry now crave a place in our theological thinking. The Bible and traditional theology did not anticipate many of the deep, ethical and moral questions which are commonly on our dockets these days.
It is possible for us to retreat into the old, familiar stances we have always embraced, where we were comfortable and where all the language and metaphors fit perfectly. But that isn’t as true today, and the agile person of faith has to approach emerging issues in a different way.
Agility is an issue which is uncomfortable for many, but which is the fuel which stokes the minds and thinking of those who will set the standards for the years to come.
Photo Credit: Imperfect Spirituality