November 22, 2019
This week some words of wisdom from my theologian friend, Joseph Martos, in his excellent book: HONEST RITUALS HONEST SACRAMENTS.
One might conclude that the material world encompasses all of reality from sub-atomic particles to entire galaxies, but the fact is there are realities that cannot be detected by our five senses or by any of the devices we use to extend them. How much does love weigh? How tall is justice? How wide is compassion? Such things cannot be measured in any usual sense. Yet they are real.
Visitors to poor countries sometimes remark how happy the children are even though they do not have the toys and gadgets owned by most American children. The reason seems to be that they have caring parents and extended families within which they feel wanted and cherished. They have a sense of belonging, an awareness of community, and a sense of identity that comes in part from having responsibilities that contribute to the family’s well-being. These are important but unmeasurable realities in the lives of such children.
We tend to overlook the importance of such realities by giving them names such as values or ideals or customs or mores. But these unmeasurable realities are the ones that make our lives human and happy. Family, friendship, acceptance, respect, purpose, responsibility, love, forgiveness, courage, fidelity, trust—such things are real but they are not measurable, and they are not material realities. In that very basic sense, they are spiritual realities. Spiritual realities can be experienced, and they can be felt to be more or less intense, even if they cannot be measured.
When we begin to think about these larger issues, we enter the realm of what makes us human, and what makes life worth living. We are into the realm of relationships and commitments, values and ideals, purposes and principles that rocks and trees do not have, and that lizards and birds cannot begin to imagine. We are into the realm of spirit.
May the Spirit be with all of us!