Mosaic Part 4: introducing the facets

Dali painting


The Mosaic of Maturing Spirituality model is based on facets as opposed to stages. This is to shift the focus from an expectation that we go step by step through predictable stages toward an alternate understanding that we have a variety of “facets” that are all simultaneously present in each of us, even though different facets become the focus during different seasons of our lives. My next post will describe that shift and why it makes a difference.

As I reviewed other developmental models, I gathered key elements together into four primary facets: 1) Chaos and Order, 2) Relationships and Community, 3) Freedom and Change [with two sub-facets: a) Resistance and Revolution and b) Imagination and Hope], and 4) Mystery and Trust.


As I introduce the facets of the Mosaic model, I hope that (if you are at all aware of faith development models), you will hear echoes of familiar themes, which in those theories are associated with linear stages. The key in these facets is that the themes, questions and attitudes in each are not seen as being a part of a fixed developmental stage. They are all life-long issues. Their prominence will come and go. Within each facet the maturing processes discussed in previous posts (increasing complexity held together by integrity) are at work, unless we allow ourselves to get stuck.

1) Chaos and Order. In this facet we pay attention to what makes the world predictable – or not. We explore how certain behaviours lead to particular consequences; in other words, we find out how we can not only observe some semblance of order but we can contribute to this order. But chaos always remains. So we have to find ways to make sense of the unpredictable – how do we cope with unexpected and unfair consequences? How do we cope with our inner chaos when we can’t follow through on our own intentions?

2) Relationships and Community. In this facet we pay attention to our attachments to others. We discover who is safe to rely on. When a relationship is threatened, we explore different ways to respond. Do we turn away or reconcile, and what’s at stake in each choice? How do we deal with the intense feelings we have toward the people we are closest to? How do we make sense of a world of “others” – which are “our people” and which are the “outsiders” or even “enemies.”

3) Freedom and Change. In this facet we pay attention to what enables the new and different. We note the limits of the patterns and systems that are in place and seek openness and change. This is the only facet that I divide into two distinct sub-facets because I believe that most of us lean toward one of two possible versions of this facet. The first is a) Resistance and Revolution – the sub-facet that focuses more on the problems of the status quo and seeks freedom or change in opposition or struggle. The second is b) Hope and Imagination – the sub-facet that focuses more on imagining beyond what is currently known. This is more the realm of the dreamer or artist rather than the revolutionary. Rarely, but possibly, an individual is capable of integrating the two sub-facets.

4) Mystery and Trust. In this facet we pay attention to our deepest orientation towards and responses to all that exists. This may sound cosmic but it begins intuitively in childhood and is touched on throughout our lives. How do we handle what is beyond our understanding? How do we find peace in spite of threats and challenges? Can we accept reality with a sense of hope instead of despair? Is the universe a good place to be in spite of any evidence to the contrary? Can one trust in a God who remains beyond our grasp?

My next post will describe the contrast between the simultaneous presence of these facets versus a linear progression through predictable stages.

Dali painting

3 thoughts on “Mosaic Part 4: introducing the facets

  1. Part 4 is evidently what I needed to get me head around this. 🙂 When I read how you break down each of the facets and the challenges inherent in them, this makes a lot of sense to me as a model of growth! At first glance, with all the pairs of words, it sounds too complicated and in a way doesn’t feel like ‘growth’, but when I read your descriptions and line these facets up against my own experience and that of others I can ‘see’ the growth that happens (or doesn’t!) in each area. Thanks, Walter!

    1. Thanks – this is the kind of feedback that I need to hear: when things become clear and when they are muddy. Eventually what I will do is to describe what the maturing process looks like within each of these facets.

  2. Hi Walter, I just wants to thank you for this series. Recently, I fell into leading a group of young’ish’ seniors through bible based study of our lives past, present and future. I have enjoyed your unique perspectives and have integrate many of your thoughts into my teaching. The group has found it very helpful in putting together what seems like random happenings and processing them into their perspectives of what maturing should/could look like. Above all else, maturing is possible as we choose be embrace the process of lifelong learning and growing together and toward eternity.

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