Does spirituality replace the bygone divine foundation of life and reality? Does it provide sense in a world where sense has lost its self-evidence? This is a very broad definition of spirituality and it applies to many of its manifestations. Yet, what if it is just the other way round? What if spirituality is not an attempt to found a new kind of sense in our modern, inherently senseless world, but is, on the contrary, an acknowledgment of that loss of sense, as well as a way to lose oneself in the world become senseless? What if this is the real meaning of what a long Christian tradition defines as becoming ‘a drop of water in the ocean’? And what if Christianity as such, in order to be faithful to its own mission, has to disappear ‘as a drop of water in the sea’?
This is the basic question underlying Michel de Certeau reflection on Christianity. It is as if Christianity, to remain faithful to its ‘spirituality’, has to disappear into a kind of ‘everyday life spirituality’, in which the references to its Christian origin are imperceptible. This article examines in detail one of Certeau’s important texts on Christianity and concludes that the question remains unresolved. To save the ‘drop of water’ from disappearing in the ‘sea’, to prevent the ‘sea’ from becoming a devouring monster, a reference to the Christian inheritance will be indispensable for any of our modern forms of spirituality. Thus the thesis defended in this essay. That thesis has important repercussions on how to define the nature of modern ‘spirituality’.