Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Inching Along

“The world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home. It is a journey we can make only by acceptance of mystery and mystification – by yielding to the condition that what we have expected is not there.”[1]

It’s hard to be still long enough to unwind. Not because I don’t have the patience or desire to be still but because life, even my own, seems to be so perpetually wound up that I am being continually propelled by forces outside myself. There’s always something that “needs” to be done. Others have a way of imposing their wants and expectations. Saying yes when the phone rings does have a way of generating income and I have to keep reminding myself that this is only a means and not an end. I consider myself fortunate to be doing what I’m doing though I recognize so much of the futility in it.

Perhaps this is one of reasons for the restlessness that I always feel, one of the reasons I can’t put too much stock in the ownership of possessions.[2] In a perfect world there is no Second Law of Thermodynamics but a couple of people blew our chances for personal physical perpetuity long before we ever got here and in their blunder unleashed a pandemic plague of pride and greed.

In the world’s economy we labor to buy and own a piece of the rock though we know that nothing here endures[3]. In God’s economy he owns everything, shares it freely with all of us, and encourages us to use his possessions wisely for the benefit of all.[4] There seems to be a major disconnect between these two models and, try as we may to justify our straw[5] stacking, there simply is no possible way to reconcile the two.[6]

Yet it is here, in the friction that’s generated by these two worlds colliding, that I live. It is a difficult place. It is, at the same time, a hopeful place. It is one that allows me to dream of and work toward something better as a way of life even if what I perceive as something better is viewed by most in both aforementioned worlds as something ridiculous, irresponsible, or even absurd.

[1] Wendell Berry, The Unforeseen Wilderness, p. 43
[2] Matthew 6:19-21
[3] Hebrews 13:14
[4] Acts 2:44-45 was the model for living in the early Church. Poverty is still one of the 3 Evangelical Councils.
[5] 1 Corinthians 3:12-13
[6] Matthew 6:24