She was 83 years old, she told us. She said she had come to this workshop on spiritual discernment, because she was flummoxed. Several of us commented on the beauty and age of this word, and how seldom we ever heard it used. She gave a quick and precise definition.
“Flummoxed is when you haven’t got a clue. You do not know what to say. You do not know what to do. You are simply at a complete loss. That is what it means to me, at least.”
I affirmed her explanation of the meaning of the term. I also noted that it appeared to have hit a nerve with many in attendance – including myself. Then we talked about it. The state of being flummoxed. I suspect it is most common. I am convinced it is rampant in American culture.
The world we live in has grown to be so bewildering. The savage wars being fought over religion. The squandering of our natural resources. The suspicion we have gone over the environmental edge, and are hurtling toward the sea like a pack of lemmings. The swarming growth of technology. The malignant growth of greed. The sneaky and friendly fascism that has crept into our politics. The resurgence of racism. The gun violence which is so foolishly defended as a constitutional right. As if what the Founding Fathers meant by defending ourselves, was the capacity to wipe out a village in a minute or two. The terror and the terrorism.
I could go on and on. You could go on and on. Depending on our perspective, the list of absurdities is infinite. God created a world from chaos, and we are creating the chaos all over again.
What struck me in our discussion were the answers – Not solutions, per say, rather, strategies for handling that of being flummoxed. Most of them were remarkably simple, and many borrowed heavily from the wisdom of the 12 Step Movement.
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
ONE DAY AT A TIME.
LET GO, AND LET GOD.
BE SATISFIED WITH BABY STEPS.
WE MUST BE SMARTER, NOT BETTER.
LOVE IS ALL THERE IS.
WE MUST FUNCTION AS A TRUE HUMAN FAMILY.
WE MUST AGREE TO COMPROMISE.
WE MUST BUILD CONCENSUS.
WE NEED TO BE A COMMUNITY.
There were 31 folks at this workshop on spirituality. We were in agreement that being flummoxed is a consistent state of the spirit for many of us. We also concurred that the only way we knew out of this mess, this maze, this fog, was to go slowly and together, and to make a little bit of a difference each and every day.
Several people commented on the use of 12 Step motto's or jargon, depending on your perspective, or attitude. I stated that this came as no surprise, as addiction was the primary sign of just how chaotic and out of control our lives can become. Addiction was what the Bible called idolatry. Anything we believe we cannot live without, well, we are addicted to it.
I was proud of Beverly for coming, for still seeking answers at 83, and for possessing the insight to accurately name her spiritual state - Flummoxed! At a loss. Being the absence of a presence. I thanked her at the end of our time together. She said that the conversation helped. She felt less alone. She no longer thought she was just being emotional or silly.
Her worries were uniquely female. Her bravery in claiming the flummoxed condition of her soul, was also particular to women. It seems that when it comes to the state of the soul, mainly women are truly aware of what they are experiencing. Spirituality is primarily feminine. It is the female spirit. God as Mother.
If we are able to save this planet from the downward spiral that it is in, I would bet that it will be due to the leadership of women. Female insight and vision. A woman’s ability to know this is just plain wrong, and to demand that it stop. Men appear to have one gear. Drive. Even when they haven’t got a clue where they are going. Even when the edge of the cliff is mere feet away.
Men don't ever admit to being flummoxed, even though most are most of the time.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.