What’s so special about this morning in mid June? The construction workers got going late, but now they are hammering and sawing boards to form the interior elements of the new campus apartments being built next to me. I am saturated with Greek, even though I haven’t dived into it with nearly the same intensity as I did with Hebrew. The baby son is off to his day care, and seems to be mostly happy each day being able to go play with other kids his age. I’ve been reading a little of the journal of another holocaust survivor — Etty Hillesum. When the journals or poetry of someone is smart and introspective, I think that’s about all I want to read. I had a hard time getting into Thomas Merton’s poetry–it was mostly pretty technically perfect, but mostly not like the deeply confessional writing in his journals. I’ve been enjoying the poetry of Ann Sexton–I’d never heard much about her until recently.
I’ve lived through a mostly safe and comfortable time and place. Most of my emotional pain is centered around only a few traumatic life events. However, I don’t necessarily feel like I’ve wasted these past two decades. My search for a proper way of being has taken me past the usual simple things like happiness, career, marriage, child, etc. and I can see that a proper way of being must entail something more–like a tap root plunging down below the surface soil wet from the sprinklers and recent rains, cracking the bedrock and plunging onward toward an eternal aquifer.
My scope of the proper way of being does include some social mores–I don’t think all rules of conduct around being polite and practicing good etiquette are without value–I only strive to not get caught up in doing these things for their own sake. I’ve abandoned the quest to have that good, one close friend like I used to have in high school and college. I can see that most people are vastly different than I am–even my wife walks through an inner landscape that looks little like my own.
But a proper way of being really must mean a lot more than simply knowing when to crack a joke and when to put your napkin in your lap, etc. It must extend beyond the cultural virtues of manliness or adulthood–these all have their strengths and limits.
As I get older, I have this deep sense that the universe abides very well with or without any single human being or human civilization. No matter how much we might extol the virtues of a particular scientist, philosopher or theologian, at the end of the day, that which is is good at being and becoming whether we exist to be aware of it and help it along or not. What’s more, I sense that there in that deep aquifer flows a lot of great love and abundance, freely given by God and waiting for me to just accept it and flow with it. Once I’m ready to stop trying to bottle it up and sell it, and claim it as my own creation, I can simply enjoy it and share it without any fear of becoming destitute and forgotten.
It is hard to keep this kind of faith and sensibility in the face of everyday humans who want to push and pull me this way and that.
Of course, I have my obligations to family, and I am not suggesting that I go sit on a mountaintop and wait to see what the universe will do with me. But I am suggesting that this stream of awareness of reality, and the words that flow through me, is constantly flowing at all times and it is freely given by the Creator, the Spirit, the life force that sustains me, and none of it is my own or meant to be kept to myself.
I have to develop better strategies for how to share it with others. Not everyone trusts a middle-age white guy being nice to them and sharing what I have with them. Many people immediately conclude that I must be seeking something from them in return. How do I go about sharing freely and not giving up and quitting when someone reacts poorly to my generosity?