Thoughts Scribbled Before Sunrise

The chasm between Christ and Christianity is great.

We are called to serve. And the most truly authentic way to serve is to serve from our own weakness and not from our strength. For in our weakness we are more able to recognize the weakness in another. Sadly, we often look down on those we serve, because we are serving from a position of power. The gospel is not calling us to this kind of service. We need to look directly into the eyes of those we serve…or better yet, in a spirit of humility, look up to them.

We are a result-orientated society. No matter what we are doing, it is the “doing” that is more important than the outcome. A wise person is not concerned with results, and therefore is unaffected by the outcome.

We have become non-stop achievement machines, denying our inner need for leisure, intimacy and communion.

I confess to having a hard time understanding the quantum theory in physics. But the quantum principle of a complementarity that tolerates ambiguity, approximation, probability and paradox greatly appeals to me. Inflexible certitudes turn me off and worries me.

I once overheard a man in a bookstore ask the clerk where the self-help books were located. Clearly the guy needed help. But the proliferation of self-help books mostly prove to be of little help in dealing with the problems we face. It seems that every year our knowledge expands while at the same time our understanding shrinks. We chase after pseudo formulas for happiness and cling to lifeless dogmas instead of entering into meaningful silence. As my friend Fr. James suggests: “Disconnect the phone, the computer, things that beep and wheeze and whine… and just sit.” The help you need is within you…if you take the time to listen.

We are being engulfed by noise…the noise of too much talk, too many words. Opinions and ideologies are hurled at us from all directions. Voices shouting, “Buy me” or “Believe this” are incessant. We need a world-wide week of total silence, a week where everyone on the planet shuts up, completely refrains from all speaking, unless compelled by a true emergency or to cry out for help.

In one of his songs, Bob Dylan said that a person “not busy being born is busy dying.” Likewise, along the spiritual road we can never stand still; if we are not progressing, we are regressing.


2 Responses to “Thoughts Scribbled Before Sunrise”

  1. 1 Joan Krebs May 14, 2013 at 9:40 am

    As you probably realize, Gerry, we come at the issue you pose differently. Thank God, though, the chasm is so big that’s bound to happen. It’s part of an ability to “tolerate ambiguity, probability and paradox” (a phrase that delighted me, by the way).

    I was also struck by a couple of other items because I see them from another section of that chasm. For instance when you say a “wise person is not concerned with results” so is “unaffected by the outcome”. I resist the conclusion here. Although some wisdom figures who are models for me (the LCWR membership, for example) do not concern themselves with results in the form of goals/objectives etc; they most certainly are affected by outcomes. To my mind they care about the journey, the road taken, the direction and therefore outcomes (especially those which appear contrary to the vision that called them to make the journey in the first place) are very important to them. Call, vocation, especially that of Prophet has as its primary concern, outcome, it seems to me.

    From my place at the edge of this chasm I perceive the message of your last two paragraphs differently than what I think you do. For instance, I’d go crazy if I tried to go a week without things (or people) who “beep, and wheeze and whine”. I’ve discovered I’m definitely NOT a contemplative mystic in the sense of going into a desert. I’m a contemplative activist; who takes “the time to listen” in the MIDST of conversation, beeping, whining, wheezing. Over the years I’ve discovered that I NEED the noise of people, events, ruminations & inventions of others, what society & the planet tells me for my “Encounters With God” to occur. I can easily see how I wouldn’t survive very long incarcerated. The Bob Dylan song speaks to me in this way also. Unless this “busy being born” woman isn’t surrounded by earthly relationships/communications of all kinds she will turn into someone “busy dying.” None of that denies the need for “leisure, intimacy, and communion” however. They occur differently though in a contemplative activist and in an active contemplative – thank God for that…..

  2. 2 aliceny May 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    This is a beautiful re-affirmation of Gospel values through the accounts of Jesus’ teachings.

    Yes, we do live in a results-oriented society. However, a “wise person” who plants seeds knows that he need not be concerned about when, or how, or even if, they develop and become fruitful, becoming what The Gardner intended them to be.

    And, yes, we do live in a world where a cacophany of mindless noise and images that dart quickly before our eyes have poisoned our environment just as surely as any toxin. These assaults and distractions upon our minds seep into our unconsciousness before we even have an opportunity to interpret or to evaluate their usefulness for our lives.

    Moments — opportunities — for pure silence in today’s living are few. This is a tragedy. However difficult it may be, we MUST stop and make the time — to listen to the inner self (soul), to think outside the self, to ‘just be.’ I am a ‘newbie’ at this experience, but each time I take the time to be in silence before my God, to seek His will for my life, to let Him speak to my mind in wordless thoughts, I come away from the experience feeling refreshed, sometimes more cognizant of my sinfulness and will to change. Mostly, I am left with such a feeling of love and gratitude that I know He is always there — waiting, approachable.

    Thank you, Mr. Straub, for more food for thought.

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