December 17, 2017
I was in a bit of a hurry, pushing my shopping cart down the aisle of a local grocery store, looking for a bag of pasta and some tomato sauce. Behind me, somebody yelled “professor”! I turned around and there was one of my former students, a brilliant young fellow, who completed his doctorate three years ago.
With a big, happy smile, the young man told me he was in town for a couple days, that he got married a year ago; and that now he and his wife were expecting a baby. “A little boy,” he proudly said. “We expect him to arrive on Christmas and will name him ‘Christian’.” I congratulated him.
Then my ‘student’ became a bit serious. “I have my doctorate, a great wife, and soon a little son,” he said. “Now” he continued “I have to focus on a big question.” I asked if he was looking for a job, needed a good recommendation, or was going to buy a house. “No,” he replied. “I really need to go looking for God — for that ‘taste of the Transcendent’ you often talked about in class. There is still a terrible emptiness in my life…..”
The most important part of our life journey, as I mentioned last week, is God-discovery along the way. A great many people today, like my student, whether religious or not, are hungry for a God-experience. Hungry and thirsting for spirituality. That demands a special kind of openness and a clearing away of the roadblocks that dull our sensitivities and block our vision.
In contemporary life there are two great, but related, existential disturbances: noise pollution and hyperactive busyness. They block our openness to the Sacred, yet we have become so accustomed to them that we take them as simply a normal part of life……
Visiting friends recently, the noise pollution really hit me. The radio was on and loud. The television was replaying a football game with yelling fans. One person was talking on his cellphone; and their neighbor was mowing his yard (last time before the snow) at full throttle. I laughed and said “oh for the days of peace and quiet.” No one heard me of course.
Ubiquitous noise works insidiously. It raises our blood pressure and heart rate. It contributes to anxiety, stress, and nervousness. It closes our minds to contemplative experiences.
Along with noise, hyperactive busyness characterizes much of contemporary life. Here of course cellphones are the great disrupters. People are made to feel guilty if they are not rushing from place to place, working on projects at home, multitasking, and constantly connecting via texting, Twitter, FaceTime, and Facebook. If the power goes off, life becomes suddenly strange and disconnected.
The re-discovery of spirituality — and the survival of art, music, philosophy and theology — requires long and regular moments of tranquility. Reflective contemplative moments. We need to control our noise pollution, clear our schedules for more free time, and reduce our cyber connectedness. The more receptive, contemplative, and inwardly quiet we become, the more open and attentive we become to the deeper vibrations in Reality.
Then we resonate as well with a recent reflection from Richard Rohr:
“The purifying goal of mysticism and contemplative prayer is nothing less than divine union—union with what is, with the moment, with yourself, with the divine, which means with everything…..We came from God and we will return to God. Everything in-between is a school toward conscious loving….God is your deepest desiring. But it takes a long time to allow, believe, trust, and enjoy such a wonderful possibility. We move toward union by desiring union….So just pray for the desire to desire union. Then the actions will take care of themselves.”
My favorite poet, T.S. Eliot, summed it up this way:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
Throughout the month of December, I am asking my readers to consider a donation to keep Another Voice on the Internet. Another Voice is a free service. Nevertheless, the old fellow who writes and keeps it going has computer upgrades and maintenance expenses, and website and monthly Internet provider costs.
If you would like to contribute, kindly send a US dollar check, made out to John Dick, and send to: Dr. J.A. Dick, Geldenaaksebaan 85A, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium.
If you would like to contribute in euros, through international bank transfer, here is the information you need: BNP Paribas Fortis Bank NV, Warandeberg 3, 1000 Brussels Account name: John Dick Account number: 230-0392360-15
SWIFT CODE (BIC): GEBABEBB IBAN: BE83 2300 3923 6015
For my part, I promise to keep thinking, researching, and writing.
Thank you for helping me to keep Another Voice speaking!